“Most of us don’t get a day off from school or work – so what good is it?”
I’m sure there are some who may be thinking some version of that today. So many of our holidays get turned into a marketing blitz or sales opportunity and the meaning of the actual holiday can get lost behind banners announcing, “Buy One, Get One Free”.
I want to take time today to tell you what it means to me.
I have to admit, growing up I didn’t really think about it much. There wasn’t anyone in my day-to-day life that was in the military or who had served in the military. Then two things happened to change that.
First, in college I spent a summer abroad in Germany, just a few months before the wall came down. One of those days, my class spent a day in East Berlin – a day seared into my brain for its terrifying strangeness, in your face intimidation and sadness.
A few days later we attended a 4th of July celebration hosted by the American Embassy in West Berlin. Never in my young life had I experienced such a juxtaposition. My eyes were wide to the realization of, “now I get it”. This is what it means to be an American and have freedoms that are unimaginable in parts of the world.
And with that came the realization of the role that our military has played in protecting those freedoms.
Second, my sister married into the Air Force. And I began to get first-hand insight into that life. My brother-in-law flies F-16s and loves it. And there really isn’t any other job in the world where you get to do that. He’s very patriotic and a good leader to his soldiers. I’m very thankful and proud that he made that choice all those years ago to become a part of the military and to protect our country.
However, this is a job that comes with the opportunity to uproot and move every 2-3 years. It offers lots of time away from your family. There are long deployments where your family may or may not know exactly where you are. And oh yeah, the opportunity to get killed in combat.
My brother-in-law was deployed when his second child was born. He was able to come back for a couple of weeks when she was born, but missed most of the first year of her life.
You don’t get that back.
So take my sister and brother-in-law’s story and multiply it by the hundreds of thousands of military families and the situations they have gone through or may be enduring today. Imagine the sacrifices that our military personnel and their families make every day and in so many ways for our country.
And remember that the veterans in Veteran’s Day are people.
Be thankful to them.
So, who needs Veteran’s Day? You do. We all do.
Kirsten Jordan is a Partner at PeopleResults. She can be reached on Twitter @kirstenkbdb.