1. Thanks for this post, Penny.

    Without an active draft, fewer and fewer Americans have military experience. It’s important to take a day to discuss with our children the fact that (historically) many have served and why that’s important.

    Most veterans served to defend our country and its way of life, and they would have done that regardless of any accolades – most don’t want to be called “heroes” – they just want to be called neighbor or friend.

    P.S. – Please share with your students: Don’t ask a veteran if they were ever in combat. It’s really insensitive and can be triggering. If they were, they probably don’t want to talk about it, and if they weren’t, it can sound like you’re judging them as less than. Similarly, don’t ask first responders what was the goriest thing they’ve ever seen. Some things are better not relived.

    • That’s really good advice for students (and for people in general!). We just had the chance to visit the Holocaust Museum and hear a survivor speak. We told them something similar before the visit. You listen and you help someone bear witness, and it’s perfectly valid if people won’t talk about their experiences at all.

      • Yes. That’s good advice. Most veterans are happy to talk about military life in general and specifics of their specialty – what it’s like to be a tank operator, or military cop, or pilot, or whatever. But you’d be surprised how many kids ask if you’ve ever killed somebody…

  2. I have military in every branch of my family it seems like, and that includes chosen family, so I long ago stopped thinking of it as a shopping holiday. But I was surprised by a fresh donation to our Lakota families today so I will actually be taking some time today to look for the best deals to help people, I guess Target IS on my list now. 🙂

    I think helping people is a good way to honor our veterans who served for a better lives for their families and for our country, in general, and I do support organizations that support veterans’ mental health. Unfortunately the access to healthcare for wounded veterans is terrible.

    • I had removed this from my comment before but Crew Dog made me think I should share: I know that some of my veteran friends and family, particularly those who saw combat and suffered trauma, feel uncomfortable about being thanked for their service, so it might be good to replace that phrase with something else.

      • As @Military_Dollar has said, you can feel the difference between someone who is sincere and someone who is just parroting the phrase with no more intention than the way some people automatically say “have a nice day.”

        Sincere appreciation and kindness is welcome. But any veteran would say that talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words. If you truly value national defense and the sacrifices of our country’s defenders, then take actions to ensure that they have sufficient salaries (the lowest ranks qualify for welfare) & adequate healthcare, and that veterans have appropriate healthcare as well. Look after the families of service members – be welcoming and supportive of them as members of your community.

        Even if you object to military service on religious grounds or other non-violent beliefs, respect service members as fellow human beings, and seek to understand their experiences. Retire old stereotypes that are no longer valid, such as the military being full of high school drop-outs and criminals who couldn’t get any other jobs – you’d be surprised at how competitive it can be to be accepted into the military, how educated many service members are, and how challenging many of their jobs are.

        The best way to honor someone in the military is to see them as a human being and treat them with the courtesy due to any human being. See them as your neighbor, your community member, your friend, your family member rather than othering them. It is better for our society that the civil-military gap narrows, rather than widening, in the sense that our defense should be in the hands of citizen-soldiers rather than a small caste of mercenaries.

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