For some of us, Veterans Day means a day off from work or school. For most of us, it also means a bombardment of sales, specials, and limited time only deals. I certainly don’t begrudge retailers offering perks to veterans or service people, but I do think that the rest of us can do much better than saving 30% off a shirt at Target when it comes to celebrating Veterans Day.
Here’s a short list of things that I’m doing today to celebrate Veterans Day. (Sorry, Target, you’re not on the list.) I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!
See How Your Community Celebrates
Community events are usually always fun and frugal. While Veterans Day celebrations are more somber than they are celebratory, and rightfully so, community events foster feelings of belonging and rally people together to support one another. A quick Google search of Veterans Day plus your community name will let you know what’s going on in your area today.
If your community hosts events the weekend prior, put a notification in your calendar for next year. Seriously. Stop reading, switch tabs, and do it now.
Connect with Friends and Family
Show up for people in your life. It’s hard to do, and yet I’m not sure anything we do actually matters more. If you find yourself feeling too busy, that’s all the more reason to pick up the phone, send a text, or fire off an email.
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What is really remarkable is that the people who have served our country are all around us. If no one in your immediate circle of friends or family is a veteran, there is still a good chance that you cross paths with someone deserving of our gratitude. They’re people we went to high school with, and people who live in our neighborhoods.
Something I really love about my work is that my building and my district make it a point to recognize all of the staff members who are veterans. That way, I can thank my coworkers. Even more importantly, students learn how far a sincere “thank you” goes and can practice that for a lifetime. Imagine if all of our schools and workplaces took the time to do something like this.
Donate to a Charity
One of my favorite things about Charity Navigator–besides the fact that it totally negates people’s skepticism of charities–is the fact that you can search by cause. That means that in a just a few clicks, anyone can find a highly-rated charity that supports military members.
We give to two different nationals charities, as well as a local veterans program that supports homeless vets, regularly. My plan is to take the money I am tempted to fritter away at Target (I wasn’t kidding about that 30% off on women’s clothing!) and donate it instead.
Show Your Support However You Can
While I am a firm believer in the power of charitable giving, I also know that not everyone is willing or able to donate money. That’s OK. There are plenty of other ways to show support to veterans and active duty military personnel.
- Donate Halloween candy to send to troops. (Dentists in our area support this Halloween candy buy back program!)
- Collect other in-demand items for troops and send care packages via Support Our Troops.
- Write cards and make posters. Operation Gratitude letters are for active duty, veterans, first responders, and more!
- Contact local and state representatives to let them know you want more support for veterans who return home.
- Research other veterans support initiatives in your own community that exist and brainstorm ways to support them.
If opportunities to support veterans present themselves, lean into it. Perhaps you’ll cross paths with a poppy. Scoop one up! I wrestled with this a bit on Poppy Day last year, but I ultimately decided that wearing a poppy wasn’t going to undo any of my decluttering progress.
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It would be easy to grumble about not having the day off, but I’m actually thrilled to go into work today because our school puts together a really beautiful and powerful assembly. The band and orchestra play, the choir sings. Students recite poems and read essays. Veterans in our community are recognized. I could show up with a bad attitude about wanting the day off (we used to stay home!). Instead, I’m focusing on what an amazing opportunity this is for my students and for me.
As someone who isn’t the in the military and doesn’t have any direct connections, I always marvel at how close and how far away this holiday feels. My family tree on both side is lined with veterans. In fact, my great grandmother had all of her sons serving in World War II at the same time. A classmate of mine since elementary school was killed in combat right after high school. But my parents did not serve, and only one of my friends did (he’s home now!).
I can’t fathom the ongoing sacrifice that our military and their family make, but I can remind myself to be grateful. Taking time to reflect and to articulate that gratitude matters. Today serves as a reminder for me to do both.
Final Thoughts on Celebrating Veterans Day
If you’re going to shop, shop. But know that there’s more to be done today to celebrate our veterans than score free shipping or a percentage-off promo code. We can’t ever match their sacrifice, but we can work to support them and show our thanks.
So Tell Me…How do you or your community celebrate Veterans Day?