America was founded on people that gave their life for freedom. Throughout history, America’s evolution included fighting others for its own freedom, internally for personal freedom, and in recent history, fighting on the belief they were helping other countries gain the same kind of freedom.
Whether the people were for or against a war, no matter what side people stood on, in the end there was a courageous group that put their lives on the line because their country asked them to. These people left their families, their homes, their careers, sometimes even their own beliefs to answer the call to duty.
When I was younger I didn’t pay much attention to Veterans Day. I remember thinking it was something for old people, I really didn’t understand what it was about. Now that my own generation has been through several wars and many ‘hostile altercations’ across the globe, I have a stronger appreciation for these amazing citizens. I have seen for myself the way war transforms people, families, communities, and the country.
Is it fair that the rest of us that stay at home are debating whether the war is a right thing? Some believe that to support our troops you must be loyal to the U.S. Government and, through thick and thin, good choices and bad, support every war they engage in. Others feel that the freedom purchased automatically provides for Americans to have a voice and be allowed to stand up if they feel something is wrong (and/or right), including war.
Are we unpatriotic when we question the validity of a war? For those that don’t support a war, does that mean they also don’t support the troops and lack appreciation for their sacrifice? Can there be a separation between supporting the troops and supporting the war? Why do some feel it is all inclusive, an all or nothing package?
The bigger question should be this – regardless of the reputation of any war – how can we as Americans support the Veterans and impact their lives? I believe the best way that we can honor these courageous people is by making sure they get taken care of in return for taking care of us. Isn’t that more meaningful than just saying you support ‘the war’?
Let’s start by teaching our children the value of what they have done for us. So many young people don’t even know the word vet or veteran. Take them to a museum, talk to them about history, and encourage them to ask the older generation about their experiences. Discuss current world events with them at an age appropriate level; teach them how to educate themselves on the world by going to the library and searching on the internet.
Last but not least, as a country we have to start taking care of our vets. The healthcare system for them is atrocious. These people need to be treated with dignity, yet the VA hospitals and clinics are 3rd world. Many are homeless and have untreated diseases and ailments. We need to speak loud and clear that they deserve top-notch healthcare, retirement living, and monthly benefits. If we speak loud enough something will change, because it has to.
So let’s stop arguing over the governments actions, who is and isn’t patriotic, and focus on taking care of our own. Reimagining the world for our Veterans and demanding higher standards is the best gift we can give back to those that gave their all.