This year marks the 100th anniversary of Veterans Day, which was first set aside to honor those veterans who fought in the “Great War.” That designation has evolved over the years. Today, we celebrate all who served in the U.S. Armed Forces, rather than only those who fought in war.
On this centennial anniversary, I propose that such recognition include honoring veterans’ families. My rationale is simple. Ask any parent whose child who was called upon or who chose to serve, in times of peace or times of war, what that experience was like for them. How well do those spouses and children who lend backbone and support to those who serve carry their own burdens, responsibilities, and experiences of living a military life.
This past June I enjoyed the privilege of serving as a civilian volunteer on an Honor Flight from Louisville, KY to Washington D.C. For those unfamiliar with the term, “Honor Flights” is an all-volunteer, national non-profit which pays homage to World War II, Korean War, and most recently, our Vietnam era veterans, for their service and sacrifice and service. Each flight is funded by the generosity of individual and corporate donations. Every trip is made memorable through the efforts of trained guardians (individual escorts) and local volunteers.
The flight was made memorable on many levels. What distinctly and clearly impressed me was the relationships, both newly-kindled and rekindled, between those being honored and the children, grandchildren, spouses, and other relations who accompanied veterans on their flights. For many, the experience was an opportunity to bring closure to memories left unspoken. For others it was a chance to honor their parent or grandparent in ways that go way beyond words, transcend time, and speak to relationships that exist whether or not one served in the military.
Insights, experiences, and lessons learned can prove invaluable when shared with another. That is particularly true for someone about to embark on military service, those growing up in a military household, and anybody who needs a little, inspiration, motivation, or understanding at some point along their way. That’s a major reason why I wrote Wisdom of Age. It is also why I am now reaching out to veterans and their families to hear and share their unique point of view. Below you will find observations from veterans who felt that other veterans and their families might benefit from their words. Please take a few moments to record your own insights and observations, so we can share a bit more.
What’s one bit of advice given to you (growing up) that has served you well?
“If you can stay calmer than everyone else in any given situation, you will find success.” – James, Age 47 Navy (4 Active, 4 reserve)
“Keep an open mind and keep learning.” – Bob, Age 76 USAF (Captain)
“If it had been a snake it woulda bit ya.” – Sandra, Age 35 Army (E4)
If you could share one thing about life (that you’ve learned so far) with someone younger than you, what would that advice be?
“So much of what you think people think is perceived.” – Sandra, Age 35 Army (E4)
“Learn to meditate and detach. You are not what you “feel.” – Bob, Age 76 USAF (Captain)
“Don’t be so anxious to grow up! Enjoy your days and don’t forget to enjoy now while you hope for tomorrow.” – James, Age 47 Navy (4 Active, 4 reserve)
Jeff Rubin is a consultant on community and aging issues, author of Wisdom of Age, and a recent honoree of the Maria Shriver “Architect of Change of the Week” Award. Having spent over 20 years as a director and facilitator of community service programs at the local, state, and national levels, today he is an advocate for “Age-friendly” and “Livable” communities, Mr. Rubin is currently working to advance positive aging in Kentucky and worldwide. He invites your comments, involvement, and support. Jeff can be reached at Jeffrubin515@gmail.com.