Nov. 11 is Veterans Day. It's a day off from work or school for some — but it's so much more than that. It's a day to say thank you to our friends, neighbors and community members who serve in our nation's armed forces. It's not about war and whether or not you support it. It's about the people who go off and leave their families for months, or even years at a time, in support of our country.
So take a minute to say thanks to a veteran today, and teach your kids why it's important, too. Not sure how? Here are seven ways to do it:
1. Say the words: If you know a veteran, whether it's your neighbor or someone you pass on your morning commute, take a minute to say thank you. Just two simple words, but they sure do mean a lot.
2. Send a message: What's the one thing that most soldiers request when overseas? A letter. Words of encouragement or appreciation to let them know they are not alone and they are not forgotten. Even if it's from a total stranger, a letter can mean so much. Check out Anysoldier for information on sending a message to a soldier.
3. Send care packages: There are a number of agencies that send care packages to soldiers deployed in the field. Be sure to follow the directions on items that can and can't be sent. Check out the American Red Cross or Military Missions for more info.
4. Donate: Even a small donation goes a long way toward helping soldiers both overseas and back at home. A few to try: National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, Wounded Warrior Project and Disabled American Veterans.
5. Volunteer: Talk to your local veteran organizations, the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars to see how you can help. Bring a meal to a homebound vet, or send a thank-you card to a vet in your area, and you could make someone's day.
6. Support a military family: When a soldier reports for duty, he or she is not the only one making a sacrifice. Chances are, there is a family back home missing that person and pulling together to make it through his or her absence. Support a soldier's family and you are supporting the military in an often overlooked, yet greatly appreciated way. Bring a meal or send a thank-you card to a military family in your area. Or check out Fischer House, an organization dedicated to helping the families of soldiers in the field.
7. Never forget: Ask most veterans what they would want for Veterans Day and they will likely all say the same thing — for Americans to remember and appreciate their sacrifices. Again, it's not about war. It's about the people — the soldiers who put themselves in harm's way so we don't have to. And it's certainly worth remembering, and saying thanks.