On November 11th, we will have opportunity to teach our children about patriotism, service, and sacrifice. As a veteran Marine, the daughter of a Marine, and the wife of a retired Marine, I have learned that the most important thing a family can do for Veterans Day is to learn about and honor our veterans.
Veterans Day originated as Armistice Day on November 11, 1919, one year after the end of World War I. Dubbed the Great War because of the unprecedented damage done and lives lost, the first anniversary of its end must certainly have been a celebration, but also bittersweet as millions of homes worldwide had empty chairs around the dinner table.
In 1926, Congress passed a resolution for an annual observance of Armistice Day, and twelve years later November 11 became a national holiday to honor the veterans of WWI. Then, in 1954, the name was changed from Armistice Day to Veterans Day, becoming a day to celebrate all who have served our great nation.
The best way we can honor our veterans is to ask them their story of service. Many serve because they feel called to something greater than themselves, and this is a great way to hear why and when they served. For many Christian veterans, their story of service is an important part of their testimony. Serving in the Armed Forces tests one’s fortitude, resiliency and ability to overcome many hardships.
Acts of kindness, parades, and visiting Veteran Memorials are great ways to celebrate this holiday, but sometimes just meeting the veteran neighbor next door, in church or even in your family is enough. This day can incite traumatic memories for many veterans, but with the encouragement of their community, they can feel recognized and appreciated. Sharing a meal, a card, a flag, or a conversation can make a difference in their day. It can also open the door for us to share our faith with them.
Veterans have a pride for their country that comes from the tradition and regiment they developed daily while preparing for war. One aspect of this tradition is the flying of the American flag; our flag flying at home and abroad is a sign of victory for them. Display an American flag on this day and others to show respect for those that have served, and teach your kids to respect and honor our flag. “For in the name of our God, we will raise up our banners.” (Psalm 33:12)
Furthermore, teach the history of America and its flag from the battle of Fort McHenry to today. Take them to places like Washington D.C. and to memorials such as the National Marine Corps Museum, Fort McHenry, Gettysburg, and other national battlefields. You can also learn about the veterans of America by visiting your local Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legions.
Remember, God has put us in our communities to honor Him and grow in His love, and on this national veterans’ holiday, we can share that love with those who have served.
Editor’s note: If anyone would like to send cards or care package items to those currently deployed, Les and Gina Payton have offered to help get you connected or to collect items to send. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.