Two words. They require nothing poetic to make them more profound. They echo in a way that carries their message far into tomorrow. They rest with a weight that makes the gravity of that gratitude inescapable.
Whispered from a child to parent, coupled with a handshake from neighbor to neighbor, or scrawled on a sign shared between strangers, those two words are what every veteran deserves to hear.
Those two words are the simple first step toward truly honoring our veterans.
So many things in today’s world can divide us and send us drifting apart, but a service member’s love of country and sense of duty is an anchor we can all stand hold on to as political tides ebb and flow in America.
It is the veteran that offers all he or she has in defense of the foundation of freedom. It is the veteran that offers to trade his or her own future for the future liberty of others.
And the only price to other Americans is a “thank you”.
A thoughtful, sincere thank you will reverberate beyond simple gratitude, though.
That thank you will carry with it a sense of responsibility when we contemplate why we offer it. When we remember those reasons we are thankful, it is not difficult to see how much more we could do to ensure these veterans are not only appreciated but taken care of.
Real thanks leads to real mental health assistance when they are thrust back into a civilian life that might be difficult to be comfortable in again. It reminds us to respond to even the most subtle signs of struggle as a veteran wrestles with taking their own life.
Thank you means attention to a veteran’s specific healthcare needs through viable, quality care that no one has to be denied or wait months to receive.
The gratitude for being apart from their family or pausing their own life must come with ways to assist veterans through education and economic assistance that ensures they are not forgotten or fall behind in our economy.
For the veteran that ran five miles at 5:30 a.m. in the rain for no other reason than a platoon sergeant said so, to the one who ran toward enemy fire to complete the mission. For the veteran who spent 12 months far from family on a tour in Korea, to the one who has served three combat tours in the Middle East.
Every veteran has sacrificed something different, but by taking the same oath, they have all pledged to sacrifice everything if necessary.
It is not in parades or speeches on special days that we show our real gratitude for the service of America’s veterans. It is in the sincere personal thank you, and the daily work that comes from its sincerity that will show how much their service has meant to us.
They will not even ask for the thank you, but we know we owe them at least that much.