THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 11: Don’t forget to thank one of America’s 24.9 millions vets today, perhaps during the parades, exhibits and ceremonies planned for Veterans Day.
Each year, a Veterans Day National Ceremony pays tribute to soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery at 11 a.m., although numerous communities across America hold their own commemorative ceremonies, too. (Get all the info at the site for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.) Some schools even participate with “Take a Vet to School Day,” or workplaces with “Thank a Vet at Work!” (Hey, vets—enjoy a free lunch today at participating Applebee’s or TGI Friday’s restaurants! The National Park Service is also offering free admission to vets today.)
This year, President Barack Obama’s proclamation thanked veterans by uniting patriots of past and present: “Our courageous troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the globe have earned their place alongside previous generations of great Americans, serving selflessly, tour after tour, in conflicts spanning nearly a decade.”
Another milestone of Veterans Day 2010 is the groundbreaking of the nation’s first American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial in Washington, D.C. Read all of the details in Wayne Baker’s OurValues spotlight.
Veterans Day was originally known as Armistice Day in the United States—as it is today in the UK; it wasn’t until 1954 that Nov. 11 became a day to honor all vets in the U.S. (Get more history from this U.S. government site. Or, from History.com.) The original Armistice Day began in the U.S. in 1919, after World War I ended. The UK still recognizes the events of Nov. 11, 1918, on Nov. 11, and also pays tribute this Sunday on Remembrance Sunday.
Although citizens around the world will be thanking vets today, war has traumatized many veterans and their challenges are long lasting. In a recent interview on PBS, former Marine Michael Abbatello talked about being wounded “of the soul” as a result of his service in Afghanistan. (Read the full interview here.) Awareness of moral and spiritual wounds is increasing, though, and experts in the field are debating exactly how to deal with this particular aftermath of war. If you’re thanking a vet today, take time to listen, too. By spending time, you may be helping that veteran in many ways.