“Thank you for your service” – these five words can be one of the best and simplest ways to recognize the veterans in your life on November 11, Veterans Day. But, what if you want to do more?
You could go to a parade (the biggest is in New York City) or a ceremony (the official one is at Arlington National Cemetery). You can fly the flag or try one of these ideas. What else?
How about saying, “Tell me about your service” and capturing a veteran’s story so his/her sacrifice isn’t forgotten?
Over the past 15 years, the Veterans History Project, part of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, has collected and preserved more than 96,000 personal accounts of war veterans. This includes audio and video recordings, photographs and written memoirs, some of which are available online, from veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition, civilians who were actively involved in supporting war efforts (war industry workers, USO workers, flight instructors, medical volunteers, etc.) are invited to share their stories, too.
Numerous organizations have conducted interviews for the project—thousands of World War II veterans were interviewed in conjunction with the Ken Burns PBS documentary, "The War," and Boy Scouts can conduct interviews as part of their Eagle service project. But, individuals are encouraged to participate as well.
And, that means you, if you want it to. You can contribute:
To participate, check out the project’s field guide or the Ken Burns field guide to get started. Or, if it all sounds too ambitious, perhaps just visit the project website this Veterans Day and view, read or listen to some of the remarkable stories available there. It would be a fine way to mark a special yet solemn day.
Did you know: A 1968 law established Monday observances for several U.S. holidays, including Veterans Day, because who doesn’t love a three-day weekend? However, Nov. 11 has special meaning for veterans. It marked the beginning in 1918 of the World War I armistice, the "11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.” In 1978, Veterans Day was returned to Nov. 11, where it remains today.
Of course, you don’t have to wait until Veterans Day to honor the vets in your life. Let them know you appreciate their service, and lend them a hand if they need it. And, remember, Memorial Day in May is an occasion to honor the service men and women we have lost.
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