Thank you for your service!

The chances are good that like me, you know a veteran. Maybe it’s a parent, a friend or coworker. Maybe it’s you.

Service requires supersedes the needs of the self to become a part of a collective whole in work toward a common goal. Veterans are well aware of the sacrifices of family, work, and home. On Nov. 11, or Veterans Day, it’s a welcome time to say, “Thank you for your service.”

Perhaps the baby boomers are the last to remember required military service, registration for the draft into the armed forces. or even the “cold war.” Many veteran day celebrations are an opportunity to make history come alive for our students and community. It is an opportunity to remember the hard fought battles for independence, freedom and rights. Sometimes it was a fight for something impossible to understand,

My father didn’t talk about his service experiences. Yet we knew of the nightmares he had “trying to get out of the plane before it crashed.”  My father was a pilot who flew a heavy plane over the “Hump,” the Himalayan mountains. He became a prisoner of war when his plane went down in India. Yet he was sheltered by a woman from North Carolina who had married a doctor there.

It’s hard to relate to those matters unless you have experienced them. Listen anyway. Every Christmas season my father received a telephone call from one of the flight crew who served with them. They would relive old times for a couple of hours each year. Sometimes the greatest gift is listening for understanding.

After America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, suicide rates among veterans spiked to 1.5 times that of non-veterans. If you know a veteran in crisis or you are one yourself, call 1-800-273-8255. Learn more about mental health and how to help.

Most of all, give thanks for a gift far greater than you can imagine.