When asked what being a veteran means to me, there are dozens of thoughts as I take pen to paper. First and foremost, I’m reminded of the original meaning of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, in 1918, when the guns fell silent, and all was quiet on the Western Front, ending World War I. The original day, Armistice Day, remembered the sacrifice of the millions of Americans who took up arms to answer that call so many years ago. But the meaning evolved to include all veterans of our armed forces. The more I think about what being a veteran means, one word keeps coming back to me and that is service.
Like many of my fellow veterans, I never made a career of the military, but the lessons we learned remain. Instead of a career in the military, we entered the business world, started companies, rose amid the ranks of organizations, or lead nonprofit associations. Being a veteran has always been about service. First to our nation and now to our neighbors. According to AmeriCorps, one in four veterans volunteer their time each year – a whopping 801 million hours of service in 2015, the most recent data shows.
At a time when many of our fellow Americans are dealing with the economic and health issues brought about amid COVID-19, veterans don’t merely stand ready, we engage. We serve as leaders among charitable organizations, help our local communities, and lend a hand. We’re your friend working as the volunteer crossing guard at your kid’s school, taking food to the elderly, and sandbagging during a flood. We served once and continue to serve with the same commitment and dedication to duty.
On this Veterans Day, don’t forget to thank a veteran for their service.