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Saying Thanks to Veterans
By Susan Hines-Brigger

Q U I C K S C A N

A Day to Say Thanks
A Catholic Connection
For Teens: Recording Memories
For Kids: Send a Thank-you Card

This past May, I was privileged enough to be in Washington, D.C., the same weekend as the dedication of the National World War II Memorial. On the day of the dedication, I was standing next to an elderly veteran in full uniform while waiting for the Metro. A young man approached the gentleman, grabbed his hand and thanked him for his service to our country. It was a simple gesture, but it brought the veteran to tears.

This month, we celebrate Veterans Day as a way of saying thank you to all the men and women who have served our country in the military.

A Day to Say Thanks

Veterans Day actually has its origins in Armistice Day, the last day of fighting in World War I (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month). But after World War II, the question came up of how also to honor those who had served in that war.

Representative Edwin K. Rees of Kansas suggested that Armistice Day be changed to Veterans Day, a day to honor all those who had served in the military. And so in 1954 President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill marking November 11 as Veterans Day. The date of its observance was changed in 1968, but was changed back in 1978 because of the historic significance of November 11. That date is also the feast of St. Martin of Tours, a former soldier and the patron of military chaplains.

A Catholic Connection

So by now you may be asking, “What does this have to do with me as a Catholic?” Well, according to the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (www.milarch.org), on any given day there are 1.4 million Catholics serving in the military.

You may not even know that Catholics in the military are part of their own archdiocese—the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (See Ministry in the Military: Serving Those Who Serve).

Here are some ways you and your family can show support and say thanks to all those who have served and continue to serve our country:

• Are there members of your family, parish or neighborhood currently serving in the military? Have your family “adopt” a member of the armed forces. Better yet, see if you can get your parish involved. With the holidays arriving, this may be an especially difficult time for those away from their loved ones. Send cards, letters, care packages. Make sure you check first, however, on what you may or may not send.

• Don’t forget about the families of those in the military. Offer to help out in any way that you can, such as watching the kids or even just providing a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on or a hug.

• This month, make an extra effort to pray for peace in the world, especially on November 11.

• Organize a prayer service—either at home or in your parish—for all those currently serving in the military.

• If you know any veterans, thank them for their service.

• The Military Archdiocese receives its funding through donations. Support their work by making a donation.

Next Month: Fighting the Christmas “Gimme’s”

 

For Teens: Recording Memories

Some of my daughter’s favorite stories that her grandpa tells her are those from when he was in the Army. Being a five-year-old, Madison’s favorite, of course, is the one about the time he blew up the latrine—with someone in it. (Luckily, no one was hurt.) But that is only one of many stories—most of them less embarrassing—my dad has about his time in the military.

Chances are, either someone in your family or someone you know served in the military. And they probably have some interesting stories to tell. Sit down and talk with them about their experiences. Better yet, record their answers to preserve their stories on either audio or video.

The Library of Congress’s Veterans History Project has a Web site that offers tips, techniques and examples on how to conduct such interviews at www.loc.gov/folklife/vets/kit.html.

 

For Kids: Sending a Thank-you Card

Since Veterans Day is a day to say thanks to those who have served in the armed forces, why not make a thank-you card and give it to a veteran? You might want to include a red poppy flower, which is a symbol of Veterans Day, somewhere on the card. If you don’t personally know someone to give the card to, perhaps an adult could help you address it to the local Veterans Hospital for all to share.

 

Do you have ideas or suggestions for topics you'd like to see addressed in this column? If so, send them to me at “Faith-filled Family,” 28 W. Liberty Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202-6498, or e-mail them to Family@franciscanmedia.org.


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