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Veterans Day is not Memorial Day

Proposed dialog on this often misunderstood holiday

Service Members marching in the NYC Veterans Day Parade
Service Members marching in the NYC Veterans Day Parade

I was moved the other day by a radio story about a gold-star family (NPR) who lost their son, however, the story would have been more appropriate on Memorial Day. Overall, we need to change the narrative and start to really understand what these holidays (in this case Veterans Day) are about. A service member or Veteran may not be offended by this misinterpretation, but a more meaningful dialogue is needed.

I was provided some great discussion topics for Veterans Day when I attended a celebration of service lunch with my firm. Secretary of the VA, Robert A. McDonald, was the guest speaker. The Secretary highlighted some great qualities of veterans: they are great people because they are obedient, thankful and positive; they have the best stories and they are lifelong leaders in their communities. The Secretary also talked about education and how investment in a veteran pays back big dividends to society. There are lots of ways to invest in veterans including fixing the VA (CNN), providing education benefits (IAVA), sponsoring athletic events (Team RWB), Carrying the Load or creating job programs like the 100,000 jobs mission. Having networked and personally participated with these examples, I can attest to their strengths.

The Celebration of service was a very honest and authentic event. In appreciation for participating we were gifted Howard Schultz’s new book For Love of country: What Our Veterans Can Teach Us About Citizenship, heroism, and Sacrifice. I really like the second half of the book (about returning home) as it relates to this blog post. I left the celebration with fond memories of service and resolve for the future. I am particuarly excited about how web technologies can enhance communicaiton and participation in all kinds of social causes.

One of my friends Michael Kim, L PsyA. has written a much more elegant and academic take on the discussion in On This Veterans Day, Can the Vet Ask the Question? Michael elaborates on the spectacle that these holidays have become and what a civilian might do to create a more meaningful conversation.

On a lighter note, I would like to share my favorite piece of Veterans Day Media,Operation got your 6 With the Penguins of Madagascar (video)> with the First Lady Michelle Obama.

photo credit: By U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kleynia R. McKnight [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


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