“As we express our gratitude we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” – President John F. Kennedy
Gratitude. This is the season for it. Somehow, sandwiched in-between the pumpkins & costumes of October and the lights & tinsel of December, we still have managed to carve a truly rare beast – time set apart to be thankful. And how fitting it is that during the month dedicated to remembering and counting blessings, we’ve chosen as a nation to honor our veterans.
Next Friday, 11/11/16 is formally recognized as Veteran’s Day.
So what is it and why do we celebrate it?
Well, the real V-Day (no, not the February one!) was initially called “Armistice Day” and began on November 11, 1919 – the first anniversary of the end of WWI. Seven years later (in 1926), Congress formally declared it an annual observance. In 1938 it was marked as a national holiday – and it’s tenure was cemented on our calendars in 1954 when President Eisenhower changed the holiday’s name to Veteran’s Day (honoring not just the memory of WWI but all who had served in defense of the American people).
Here are some quick (and astounding) facts:
- As of 2014 there were 19.3 million military veterans in the United States.
- 1.6 million of these were female.
- 9.4 million of these were over age 65.
- 1.7 million were under the age of 35.
- Numbers & Wars:
- Vietnam War = 7 million veterans
- Gulf War era = 5.5 million veterans
- WWII = 1.1 million veterans
- Korean War = 2 million veterans
- Peacetime = 4.4 million veterans
(Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau).
While statistics tell us a lot – they don’t tell the stories, the sacrifices, the memories, and the on-going challenges of our veterans. So our ask of you this Veteran’s Day is simple. Get to know a veteran – whether it’s a friend or family member. Honor them with your time. Ask them what stories or memories they want to tell. Respect the things that they can’t (or won’t) be able to share.
Most restaurants offer a free meal to service men and women on Veteran’s Day (and here at Quarks, we’re proud to do that, too). But what might be an even greater gift to the veteran in your life isn’t the free food. It might be you – taking the time to simply share a meal with them. To share yourself with them.
As we head into this next week when our ability to vote and elect governing officials will be an all-consuming focus, let’s not allow that to overshadow those who have given so much for us to have those opportunities and freedoms.
From all of us at Quarks – to all our Veterans and current military members – THANK YOU.