Should Veterans Day Be For Veterans Only?

Nov. 11, 2019 Update  It’s important to “teach your children well,” beyond the “Veterans Day is NOT Veterinarians Day” basics as this handy “get to know us” explainer on service, sacrifice, and soldiers impacted forevermore imparts so well.

Yes, it’s a holiday, but Veterans Day continues to be an overlooked and misunderstood nod without context for many, especially in this era of self-aggrandizing phonies who have done more harm to our national security leaving a blight and upending damage to our global reputation and world alliances for decades to come.

REAL veterans are to be honored for their service and need civilian support services not empty “thank yous.” Money spent on showy Trumpian parades and media stunts could be better spent directly on veterans’ health care needs, housing, jobs and integration back into the community. Use Veterans Day to teach media literacy and show kids the difference between self-serving and serving others.

So on this Veteran’s Day, please take the time to deconstruct the conflicting messages of flag waving MAGA hat zealots, some of who have never served a day, or a “bone spurs” Commander in Chief who remains an adversarial asset and a clear and present danger to our country (editorial commentary by yours truly) and instead focus on a salute to the REAL veterans of ALL parties, genders and armed forces units.

Yes, on this Veterans Day I’m missing my dad and knowing in my heart the only positive about his exit from the planet in a long, full life is that he didn’t have to witness the degradation of our democracy at the hands of his own party…the GOP. We clashed on ideology often but his integrity and stalwart patriotism in service to the country for decades in Naval Intelligence continues to serve as a reminder to me of “what once was” in an era of country over party and the quelling of strident partisanship and pandering to vested interests and foreign disruptors set on causing harm to our nation. Sending a solemn salute to integrity and values, and a prayer we pull our country back from the brink of manipulative misinformation and democracy damaged by lawless corruption. Veterans everywhere, we thank you.

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Should Veterans Day Be Just For Veterans? 

Original Post: Considering the number of kids who shrug off Veterans Day as ‘veterinarians day’ and pay little attention when corrected, it begs the “when is it, what is it, why is it” question to educate youth about the holiday and raise awareness beyond flag waving and drum thumping parades.

Google changed their graphic with some helmets plopped on the logo, a pleasant surprise, but much like the post I wrote on Memorial Day, kids often can’t articulate the purpose beyond “it’s about soldiers or something.” Ahem.

Kids sure aren’t veterans, nor do they need another gimme, with all the half-days, minimum days, teacher service days, and amalgamation of funky scheduling that wreaks havoc on every parent’s calendar keeping it all straight.

So why don’t we truly honor veterans by saluting them in the workplace by giving them a ‘hallpass’ for the day while the rest of us trudge onward?

This makes sense to me for multiple reasons…it flags the REAL veterans rather than the sale-shopping-football-fest folks, it teaches kids (and all civilians) that serving in the military is more than a ‘commissary privilege and a base-ID card’ (which also has been diluted/extended to seemingly everyone and his dog) and it means all veterans in the public and private sector would receive a day off, since very few actually do now.

Who gets the day off instead?

Kids. Feds. Bank tellers, civil servants, and very few who have ever seen a combat day in their lives (except maybe Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan on the silver screen). Twisted irony there.

This blogger I found in a Google search of this theme slam dunks the concept, suggesting it should become common in America for someone to ask, “Where’s John today?”, and for someone to respond “He’s got the day off, he’s a vet.”

Love that. Give credit where credit is due.

He goes on to say, “Why should our government provide a paid Veterans Day holiday to people who never served in our military? We already have Memorial Day as a paid holiday to honor those who died in the nation’s service.”

Again, too true. And check out the comments section in his blog. Ouch. Serious candor from veterans…

Maybe people would finally quit mixing up the two ‘holidays’ if we differentiated the tribute.

As it is, schools often gloss over war and peace issues for fear of being politically incorrect and liable, and parents don’t fare much better, often dodging the discomfort of discourse and current affairs in the global sphere because it’s ‘complicated.’

Well, I say let’s simplify it. You put your keister on the line with service to the country, you get the day off on Veteran’s Day. The rest of us working stiffs will toil away in your honor.

I’d love for children learn the harsh reality of sacrifice, and begin to see war and violence beyond a video game and bloodbath that ends with ‘game over.’

Surf the web and you’ll find thousands of veterans backing peace initiatives and nonviolent forces, using new media to engage in outreach. See any irony there? Thankfully, I don’t. After all, veterans who’ve ‘been there, done that’ want peace more than anyone.

I’ve met more high-level military pacifists than you can ever imagine…it is not a contradiction in terms.

So what will you do on Nov. 11th to say thanks to veterans young and old?

Lots of media/marketing choices…

We’ll shop…but with a wishlist to send to a gal pal’s homesick, depressed sibling who is missing the opportunity of seeing his child grow up right now. And we’ll use e-cards and e-vites to pay it forward to other families on the internet who want to share in the concept of giving thanks, giving a virtual handshake or salute, and send some care packages overseas… Operation Gratitude is a great site for troops deployed hither & yon.

And we’ll toss a flower off our dock for every relative and friend my daughter can name who is a veteran (including her dad, uncle, both grandpas, a few cousins, and some surprise wildcard picks that I’ll bet she doesn’t even know about, including my young millennial pals and my Gen X massage therapist/chiropractor trainee who was in the first Desert Storm).

I’m not trying to be sappy or wave a preach-n-teach patriot flag, nor glamorize ‘military heroes,’ I’m simply saying this:

If we want to ‘breed peace,’ we need to ‘teach our children well’…

Kids need to be able to discern between Hollywood war and reality, video game violence and real-world harm, foxholes and film. In the desperate pursuit of global inter-connectedness, we need to “show and tell” the difference between the rhetoric and the reality.

There are young kids out there with their tails on the line…And you can bet those kids will attest their war experiences are anything but ‘fun’ simulations, especially when ‘game over’ can be a permanent state of being…

Seems this is the day to honor that fully.

Random Resources for Veteran’s Day, Media, Sites & More 

History Channel: Take A Veteran to School Day

Ken Burns’ “The War” w/VHP & PBS

Top 10 Anti-War Films (About.com)

Top 50 War Films (IMBD) Schindler’s List #1

Flags of Our Fathers

VA Kids: K-5, 6-12, Teachers

VA ‘Lessons of Liberty’

VA video: Jennifer Love Hewitt: Action Steps/Volunteering

Veteran’s History Project, Library of Congress

Celebrating America’s Freedoms: (Customs, Symbols, Icons, etc.)

Soldier Care Package Ideas

Treats for Troops

Milblogging.com (largest index of military blogs)

The Golden Rules of Care Packages (funny business)

Operation Gratitude

Operation USO Care Package

Kids’ Veteran’s Day Activities, Crafts, Poetry, Word Search/Reading List

Apples4TheTeacher

Enchanted Learning/Easy Kids’ Crafts

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier/Fact Quiz

Cybersleuth Kids’ Internet Search guide for K-12/Veteran’s Day Sites

This post is dedicated to my now late, great father, Capt. A.R. Jussel, USN Retired

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Comments

  1. Here’s an edited comment from a Vietnam vet on the blog I mentioned earlier that sums the conundrum well:

    “…The day that was set aside to honor the veterans in fact dishonors them by rewarding those who didn’t serve and ignoring those who did…If a person has a DD-214 he/she should be awarded a paid day off on Veteran’s Day. If not, it should just be another working day. This country needs to honor the right people. The only consolation to the veteran is that on Veteran’s Day the freeways are virtually empty on the way to work because of the inordinate number of undeserving government employees who are still home in bed.” –Thomas Pederson

  2. I appreciate your concern Amy, but I have to take umbrage at your apparent dismissal of the concerns of young people. While there is sad injustice done by the dishonoring of veterans on a day supposedly set aside to acknowledge the debt of gratitude everyone in the U.S. owes them, I don’t believe mocking young people – like you did in your opening salvo – is the solution.

    We should applaud those who foster powerful dialog in their schools focused on war and peace.
    http://www.ymdi.org/talk/archives/04/11/debate_made_my_school_a_more_tolerant_place.php

    We should applaud those who are creating opportunities to build meaningful relationships with veterans. http://www.mssa.sailorsite.net/fea_03_10.html
    We should applaud those that actively engage students in learning about and honoring Veterans. http://www.paservicelearning.org/Project_Ideas/Veterans.htm
    We should really focus our concern on the recruiters who show up at Veterans Day rallies. http://www.wiretapmag.org/stories/35144

    But we should not perpetuate negative stereotypes of young people in order to prove a point. That’s the weak way out. Let’s treat young people fairly Amy and tell their stories honestly – and not by simply scapegoating them.

  3. Thank you for these great links, Adam…yes, I have tons of links like this too gleaned from Google research, but when you work with this many kids, this often, it’s easy to generalize based on copious quantities of anecdotal data…And though I try to be circumspect with my word choice, I can’t hold my tongue when I ‘see what I see’ and report on it.

    My tonality is the problem here, I think. I apologize for conveying the reality so blatantly. Guilty as charged. But scapegoating and mocking youth? Bah. Agree to disagree there. I’ll try to be more careful with misinterpretation, but clearly, I’m a rebel yell for a ‘market correction’ with regard to media messaging and youth. This blog is a ‘canary in the coal mine’ heads up that something is indeed wrong in a huge way with our media/mktg. priorities, for it IS altering kids’ worldviews.

    For example…I just finished three workshops with teens at Girls For A Change on stereotypes (so yes, I indeed know the harm of stereotyping quite well) and there were 1600+ teen girls on site, not ONE of the 200 TEENS I queried (in my class & on the event floor) could tell me what was happening in outer space w/women making history for the first time as commanders of both the space shuttle and international space station…NOT ONE. And this is a ‘girls’ event…(very few of the ADULTS I queried knew either)…So…I ask you…

    Am I stereotyping when I report that this is a huge problem, mocking the media absurdity of the fact these teen girls can tell me about Britney but not Melroy & Whitson? It speaks to our media coverage, our cultural zeitgeist, and our respect for the wrong icons…THAT is what media literacy and deconstruction is all about.

    It may come off as ‘mocking’ but what it IS instead is harsh, thump on the head wakeup calls…which sadly are the only way to get anyone’s attention these days. (e.g. Look at all the fluster over “Onslaught” for example…when many of us have been singing that tune for years and years about the damage and harm to kids with these appearance-based cues!)

    If I were to report only on the minority/positive instances rather than the majority/negative ones, we’d have a rah-rah blog of rose-colored wistfulness, idealism, & ‘wish it could be so’ politically correct pablum.

    This blog is harsh, I grant you that, for my tonality is more of a “first strike hit” of “seeing the elephant in the living room” and wanting to do something about it, based on the severity of the problem.

    If I candy coat the bigger issues in favor of shining the spotlight on the good guys all the time, then the masses miss the need for “counter-marketing” altogether. I can’t risk that. People mobilize for change based on passion…they make a difference by seeing a problem and solving it.

    Speaking of which, I DO love your story idea about media/marketing to youth re: recruitment on campus, targeting schools, parades, YouTube & such.
    I’ll put that one in the queue for next round; solid media topic and ethical conundrum for sure…

    Here’s are some starter links dealing with that issue:
    http://www.militaryfreeschools.org
    http://www.recruitmenteducation.org
    http://www.afsc.org/youthmil

    I VERY much appreciate your comments, your views, and your respectful candor in leaving your comment here…

    I’ll be mindful of my OWN media messaging, without muzzling my mouth…so know that your point is well taken and you’ve succeeded in keeping me ‘in check’ with the fact that this blog has become ‘media’ in itself…Keep in touch, we need positive thinkers like you carrying the torch for youth.

  4. Thanks so much Amy! I know he and his buddies will have a “field day” with your package… I hope he balances out the pop tarts with some fruit and veggies. I sent him vitamins in case he doesn’t. 🙂

  5. Readers: Our recipient for the care package is our S.Y. correspondent in Washington D.C.’s baby bro…(see above) Rebecca, as you may recall, is our Johns Hopkins credentialed healthy foods dietician/nutritionist, so you can appreciate the hilarious irony in her bro’s request for PopTarts! See? Same family, diff. paths!—

    My daughter was laughing at our Costco cart saying “I never, ever, EVER thought I’d see the day you’d buy a case of that crud.” I gave her a squeeze and said, “hon, if that’s what the boy wants, that what the boy gets…anything to comfort him through this bleak, crazy time…”

    As you all know, soldiers need support beyond Thanksgiving, so since Rebecca ‘outed her identity’ by putting her link on the blog, feel free to ping her if you want to help him out personally to have a face to attach to a care package…Plus, her blog is chock-full of nutrition data, recipes, policy info, etc. (we have her permanently on our blogroll sidebar at the right, under “Balance & Nutrition” the name of her blog…) so you MUST visit it regardless! It’s fabulous info!!!

    p.s. I know Dorothy’s son over at grammology.com is in Iraq too…if you want to ping her to send holiday care, as sometimes it helps children to SEE the faces of the people they’re sending hope/help to, in order to drive the point home…I’m sure she’d appreciate a visit as well…

    Anyone else out there, feel free to add your loved ones into the comments section with a link to where we can find out more (wishlist, etc.) and we’ll pay it forward as much as we can…

    It IS the season of Thanksgiving…Perfect time to instill these values in our kids to give, care, connect, appreciate.

  6. There was a time when schools used to make civics lessons more of a requirement than a side-item it has become these days. Having a veteran come to an Assembly – often coinciding with Memorial and Veterans Day – to speak about their sacrifice and their service.

    Not to give a ‘blood and guts’ speech, but to put a face to the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, and Coast Guard (often the forgotten military service). These presentations at the Assemblies could be used to remind the students of the sacrifices made by the relatives of the students themselves.

    Today, in many schools, I wonder whether the students (or the staff) would sit still for a speech from a soldier.

    After the Veterans of World War II returned, many of them majority kept their stories to themselves (Case in point: look to any of the Greatest Generation books written by Tom Brokaw). When the popular culture help turn the opinion of the Vietnam War (for good or bad), the WW-II Vets’ pride in their silence – perhaps unknowingly – helped lead the change in how the military was perceived by the public. Who would have thought, prior to 1970, that recruiting for the military on college campus would be prohibited? Today, recruiting efforts on high schools are equally seen with disdain.

    Each and everyone of us can do our part. Sending packages, like described above, are an excellent start for our currently deployed soldiers. Often, in our daily activities, we will pass vets wearing baseball-style caps identifying their branch of service. The next time you see one of these vets, perhaps in a supermarket or other such location, take a moment and ask the man or woman about their service. And then offer a handshake and thanks for their service. Based on my own experience I can promise you this: more often than not, you will get a heartfelt handshake back, and often a smile of pride in return.

  7. Well, the Coast Guard sure isn’t forgotten in the S.F. Bay right now…egad…they are under SERIOUS scrutiny for some lousy response timing and misinformation on the oil spill so er…uh…anyway…

    Thanks for the reminder on the handshake, Charlie, and I’ll add there are some solid links and programs where they still DO bring vets into schools like the ones mentioned above w/the History Channels “take a veteran to school” day, (here’s a NYC school that did so, and the coverage in the Sun: http://www.nysun.com/article/65935)

    And here’s one called Veterans Voices which is a nice piece from the BBC/U.K. w/integration in ‘living history format for schools:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/remembrance/education/veterans.shtml

    Adam linked to some solid sites as well…

    Oh, and yes, youth recruitment is a hot button issue, which everyone has their own personal opinion about…BUT I’ll go on record saying that I know enough about the newest marketing tactics and campaign rhetoric to emphatically state that I’m vehemently AGAINST recruiters mining kids on campus…new media’s digital dossiers have enough firepower to brandwash and sign on the dotted line before these kids even know what hit ’em…I’ll leave the details for a piece I’ll post at another time to back it up with facts & data of centrist thinking, but suffice it to say, I personally feel each family needs to discuss those issues privately.

    It is NOT a government’s right to access kids in a high school institution any more than it is a corporation’s right to do the same…or a religious group’s right to sell their belief system…Teens are WAY too impressionable and influenced at that tender, formative, rebellious age to be mined like sitting ducks as market opportunities for ANY sector. (imho, anyway)

  8. Melvin U. Trustaff says:

    Real veterans are WWII Veterans. These later wars are not real wars and do not count.

  9. juan quiroz jr. says:

    my father was a u.s.army soldiers listed in from mexico but he did not go to the vietnam war. he came home because my grandma got seek, after that, the red cross can not help my father to return to his base and the u.s. army said that he was a deserter.ricently my father that live in mexico went at the american consul to trasmit the renovation of his visa laser and they did not give it to him because the system said that he was a non-disaired person in the usa. what can he do?

  10. You could check out the prose on social media tool MyVetwork.com and see if they have any ideas or of course the Veteran’s Admin. on policy issues…No knowledge of protocol/military discharges etc. —I’m just reporting on media/marketing tools here that are useful and/or have an impact on kids. Good luck in your knowledge search!

  11. Nicely done. Simple, direct and easy to digest. Perhaps add some flare to the blog to keep people intrigued longer, but all in all thanks.

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