“Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.” —Department of Veteran Affairs
It’s been over a year and some months since my honorable discharge from the United States Army. I ended my service with a little over five years Active Duty as a Public Affairs Specialist…telling the Army’s story through written articles and photos as unbiased, accurate, and truthful as I could. So much stories & experiences I could display on here, but it would be too overwhelming to say the least…haha (speak with me directly if you want to see/hear about them though). Initially, my reasons for joining the military somewhat stemmed from my parents’ experiences and the option to gain independence, as they both served in the U.S. Air Force and did so respectively. I have had family members who served in other military branches as well who also say that it helped them grow tremendously. For me, I honestly did not go in the Army to serve my country as a patriot, but because I simply needed money for college and to begin my transition into adulthood on my own independence…plain and simple.
Thinking back, my reason for serving did not ever change, but I will say that from the moment I raised my right hand for the oath of enlistment in 2009, up until receiving my DD-214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty) last year, I realize how grateful I am for the valuable lessons of brotherhood/sisterhood, LDRSHIP (Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage), among countless personal/professional experiences within the Army that helped get me to where I’m at today (finally back in college = goal accomplished). Mind you, I ran into plenty of challenges and obstacles, both personal and professional, along the way, but I knew that by serving in the military, it would be for a specific purpose, just like for those before me.
What does it mean for Veteran’s Day in 2015?…in today’s America? Some will say that it is to acknowledge those who sacrificed almost everything in their life to defend their country. A few will say to give thanks to those who never got the respect and gratitude they deserved during their time. Others will say it is to truly reach out to a veteran and simply thank them for their service. For me as a fellow veteran, it combines probably all of the possible reasons out there, but personally this time around, it is to remember all of the countless, unknown veterans that made their valuable contributions towards the fight for our liberation and freedom, both foreign and domestic, but were never thanked or acknowledged for it. I think of the countless veterans that are homeless, incarcerated, and those with mental disorders that at times seem to be forgotten in our current society (please look at the statistics surrounding these categories…it’s quite startling). I think of the countless veterans who’ve met their demise, but were never properly buried or even when alive, properly acknowledged for their sacrifices and service. I think of the freedom fighters who sacrificed so much time, effort, and humility for the simple hope of progressing true freedom and liberation in this country. To help assist my views on this, below are a few gem tweets from Dr. Greg Carr (Twitter: @AfricanaCarr), associate professor & chair of the Department of Afro-American studies at Howard University (the school that I currently attend), to which he helps sum up my thoughts this time around on the reflection of Veteran’s Day:
If we are to truly thank our Veterans for their service, we must not forget ALL of the veterans who have served…both foreign and domestic. Many do not want to ever bring up the conversation about veterans of color, past and present, and that is fine. Personally, it is my obligation to not ever forget them and to bring you the reality of what these men and women have done. Along with others, these men and women have contributed to help create the U.S. military to where it is today: the most powerful militant force in the world. I won’t say who all contributed specifically in this post (because the fact is the names are countless), but I will suggest to start looking back into history to gain further insight for yourself, as I believe it is one’s own obligation that if they care, they would search (plus, the information is out there). Research, learn, share, repeat.
Will we be continuing to redefine the true meaning of a “Veteran” or the recognition of “Veteran’s Day” as each year comes? I believe so…as year after year, we have continued to do so since their creations. As you finish reading, really ask yourself: What is the definition of a Veteran? Who is considered a Veteran? What is the real celebration of Veteran’s Day?