Many often confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day or even Labor Day. Some may view these holidays simply as another day off, especially if they are employed by the government and thus meaning a three-day weekend. Others might even think about shopping and all the sales including the infamous mattress sale made famous by its alignment with traditional holidays! But there's more to Veterans Day than just having a day off or shopping.
Veterans Day celebrates all men and women who served in our military -- living or dead. Nov. 11 of every year is designated as the holiday and this year the federal holiday is recognized today! It all started in 1918 when President Woodrow Wilson declared an Armistice Day to mark the end of World War I. In 1954, the name of the day was changed to Veterans Day and formally established as a national holiday.
I believe it is still as important to honor this country's veterans on Veterans Day as it was on that day in 1918 when the tradition was started. But I also believe it is imperative to not forget our military personnel the other 364 days of the year. Veterans Day is more than a holiday or a mattress sale! It is an opportunity to remember and support our veterans this day and every day.
One great way to honor this day is to visit the many memorials erected in their honor. Our nation's capital has the most famous ones, including: Arlington National Cemetery, the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial. Actor Gary Sinise is currently the spokesperson for the newest memorial to be added in 2014; the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial intended to show our gratitude to the men and women whose lives have changed forever while serving our nation.
Want to do more? Here are five tips you can use to be Making A Difference® (M.A.D.) for veterans.
- If you have a family member who is a veteran or is currently serving, not only thank them for their service, but inquire about their experiences. Often just asking about their time in the service can make a huge impact.
- Volunteer or visit patients at your local VA hospital. To find locations visit the United States Department of Veterans Affairs website at www.va.gov.
- Donate your old cell phone like I did to the non-profit organization Cell Phones for Soldiers. They are dedicated to supplying our military with cost-free communication services and you can learn more at www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com.
- Provide financial support to one of the following organizations that supports our military personnel, their families and veterans:
- The USO: www.uso.org
- The Wounded Warrior Project: www.woundedwarriorproject.org
- Operation Home Front: www.operationhomefront.net
With over two million active and reserve personnel currently in our Armed Forces and over 22 million veterans, it is more important than ever to let them know we support them. What are you doing to be M.A.D. this Veterans Day?