Veterans Day became an official national holiday on November 11, 1938. Originally known as “Armistice Day”, the holiday marked the anniversary of the end of World War I in 1919 on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour. Today, Veterans Day remains a time to recognize the service and sacrifice of U.S. military service members who have served in every war.
Here are 7 tangible and practical ways to honor a veteran in your life this Veterans Day.
1. Volunteer at a local VA hospital
Contact your local Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital and ask if they have any needs for material items or volunteers. From reading books to veterans to donating blankets and other items, VA hospitals are a great way to connect with veterans and show your thanks. VA hospitals encourage volunteers regularly and nationwide have over 75,000 volunteers giving 12 million volunteer hours. Call a VA hospital near you and see if you can meet a need they have. Chances are that you can.
2. Purchase a wreath for Wreaths Across America
Wreaths Across America is a movement to lay wreaths on the graves of veterans across the nation. The actual wreath-laying is in December and an official wreath-laying ceremony occurs at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as at more than 1,400 additional locations in all 50 states and U.S. cemeteries overseas. Consider purchasing a wreath this Veterans Day to show your appreciation, or sign up to volunteer at the event.
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3. Make plans to spend the holiday with a veteran
Chances are that you know a veteran. From WWII veterans to veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, U.S. veterans span generations. Make plans to spend the day with a veteran you know. It can be as simple as a lunch or dinner date, an afternoon at the movies, or just spending time together.
4. Attend a parade
Veterans Day parades will be occurring throughout the country on November 11. Take your grandchildren to a local parade where local veterans groups will march. These parades often culminate with a ceremony or speech from a local veteran. Show your respect and thanks in a fun way by attending the parade.
5. Buy a poppy
The American Legion Auxiliary sells red crepe paper poppies on Veterans Day and Memorial Day in communities throughout the country. These poppies are handmade by veterans as part of their therapeutic rehabilitation program. All proceeds go to assist disabled and hospitalized veterans in the local community.
6. Donate to a veterans’ or military aid organization
Donating to an organization that meets the needs of military members and veterans is a great way to show your thanks in a very practical way. Organizations like the Air Force Aid Society, the Navy SEAL Foundation, Fisher House, Blue Star Families, and more help military members and their families overcome hardships that come from military service.
7. Simply say, “Thank you”
Showing a veteran you are thankful for his or her service does not have to complicated. It can be as simple as saying, “thank you” or a quick handshake when you see a service member. Your small gesture will be appreciated more than you realize.
How will you say thank you to a veteran this Veterans Day? Share your ideas with us in the comments below. We’d love to hear them!
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