National Holiday: Give more than gratitude on Veterans Day

https://readthespirit.com/religious-holidays-festivals/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2013/03/wpid-SF_1112_Veterans_Day_vet.jpgPhoto courtesy of FlickrSUNDAY, NOVEMBER 11 (And, Nov. 12): TAKE ACTION!

Veterans Day 2012 is all about reaching out, so do your part today (and tomorrow) by thanking a Vet in your neighborhood, giving gratitude at work or even tweeting a message—the options are endless! History.com is challenging U.S. citizens to tweet 10,000 messages by Nov. 11—specifically, #thankavet—and it will donate $1 to America’s VetDogs for every tweet sent. (America’s VetDogs provides guide dogs and training for disabled veterans and active duty personnel.) Kids and teachers can get involved and earn 30 free Take a Veteran to School Day wristbands by inviting a veteran to speak about his or her time in the service—just register at History.com to take part in the national program. Kids—make a patriotic craft for a special Vet with help from Kaboose.

Do you want to remember someone from Vietnam?

Take part in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s Call for Photos, a national campaign to gather a photo of each of the 58,272 men and women on The Wall. The photographs will be displayed in the future Education Center at The Wall, and online at the Virtual Memorial Wall. Volunteers can pledge their service to Vets at Joining Forces.

CHECK ON REGIONAL EFFORTS TO HELP VETERANS

https://readthespirit.com/religious-holidays-festivals/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2013/03/wpid-1105_Chicago_area_veterans_program.jpgCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VISIT THE FACEBOOK PAGE.Last year, ReadTheSpirit published a moving column by nationally known peace activist, the Chicago-based Rev. Rod Reinhart, on Why Peace Activists Should Care About Military Veterans. This year, Rod is spearheading a Christmas Gift Drive for Homeless Veterans in his area. He just set up a Facebook page for the effort. While most of our readers don’t live in the Chicago area, watch what Rod is doing. He’s a wonderful source of ideas congregations can use nationwide.

In a letter to ReadTheSpirit, Rod explains: The Holidays can be lonely times for homeless veterans. Thousands of unemployed and homeless veterans fill Chicago area VA hospitalized and homeless shelters. Men and women who courageously served our country now struggle for survival on Chicago’s freezing winter streets. Last year, with the help of Chicago area clergy, union members, and community leaders, hundreds of families here in Illinois worked together to help our homeless vets. They contributed enormous amounts of survival gear to keep our vets alive. This Christmas, please contribute to the annual Christmas Survival Gear Gift Drive for Homeless Veterans and Wounded Soldiers. Share your holiday Joy by making up a care package for a homeless veteran.

If you’d like to launch your own local drive, wherever you live in the world, check with local veterans’ groups and organizations that help the homeless to find out what Christmas gifts are appropriate in your region.

ARMISTICE DAY TO VETERANS DAY

The world’s “Great War” officially ceased on June 28, 1919, but the fighting had actually stopped seven months earlier, on Nov. 11—and thus, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11, 1919 as the first Armistice Day. Nearly two decades later, November 11th was declared a legal holiday in the United States. (Wikipedia has details. Or, check out the Department of Veterans Affairs.) By 1954, the world had survived WWII and Korea, and a WWII vet began raising support for a more general Veterans Day. Among other arguments made in this campaign: WWII had required even more soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen than WWI. At the urging of citizens, November 11th officially became Veterans Day in 1954.

COUNTRY CALLING: HELP VETS IN RURAL AREAS, TOO

A whopping 44 percent of men and women who serve in the U.S. Military are residents of rural areas, according to a recent White House Report—even though rural residents overall only account for 17 percent of the country’s population—and several organizations are stepping up to help Vets in these areas, where unemployment is usually high. Experts assert that many Vets gravitate toward the country not only because of the therapeutic solace it provides, but also because many desire to care for others—in the form of growing food. (An article in Farm and Ranch Guide has more.) Interested to learn more? The Farmer Veteran Coalition hosts conferences, programs and more to move veterans to feed America; Vets can also acquire a VA loan to purchase a farm with the intention of living on and profiting from the farm.

WHEN IS VETERANS DAY OBSERVED?

Today marks the legal public holiday for Veterans Day, but government offices will be closed tomorrow, Monday November 12, in observance.

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