Although Veterans Day has passed, I want to recognize those who have served and are still serving in the U. S. Military.  The occasional acknowledgments we give them don’t come close to giving them the thanks they deserve.

“Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, was originally set in the U. S. on November 11, 1918 as a legal holiday to honor the end of World War I. In legislation that was passed in 1938, November 11 was "dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day.'" As such, this new legal holiday honored World War I veterans.

But then World War II and the Korean War happened, so on June 1, 1954, at the urging of veterans service organizations, Congress amended the commemoration yet again by changing the word “armistice” to “veterans” so the day would honor American veterans of all wars.  

Congress signed the Uniform Holiday Bill in 1968 to ensure that a few federal holidays — Veterans Day included —would be celebrated on a Monday. Officials hoped it would spur travel and other family activities over a long weekend, which would stimulate the economy.

Under the new law, the first Veterans Day was observed October 25, 1971. We’re not sure why it took three years to implement, but not surprisingly, there was a lot of confusion about the change, and many states were unhappy, choosing to continue to recognize the day as they previously had in November.

Within a few years, it became apparent that most U.S. citizens wanted to celebrate Veterans Day on Nov. 11, since it was a matter of historic and patriotic significance. So on Sept. 20, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed another law (Public Law 94-97), which returned the annual observance to its original date starting in 1978.” (Defense.gov)

If we take under consideration the sacrifices our veterans and their families make in order for us to enjoy the freedom that we have, we’ll admit that we don’t show them the appreciation they deserve. A quote from A Journal of Ideas states, “The military directly guarantees not only security and prosperity but human rights and freedom.” (The Catalyst; “The Bush Institute”, Fall 2016, Issue 04)

While in the Military, many veterans are often faced with obstacles that leave them handicapped in several ways. Also, upon returning to civilian life, because of certain obstacles they’ve faced they might not make the adjustment well.

What can we do to help?

1. When we see veterans, make a point to look them in the eye, and sincerely thank     them.

2. If they are active, find ways to support their spouses and families while they’re     deployed.

3. Volunteer at a veterans home or hospital. Listen to veterans and talk with them. Bring them gifts on holidays such as Christmas, Easter, or Veterans Day. One of the former pastors of the Augusta-Athens District now serves as a Chaplain at a Veterans Hospital and she often shares with me some of the (non-confidential) stories told to her by some of the veterans. They need someone to listen to their stories. They need someone to care. Many of them are there because of what happened to them as a result of the service they gave on our behalf. If we can’t go to them maybe we can send cards or find a way to become someone’s pen pal.

4. Participate in fundraisers to assist veterans and their families. This type of tangible  love could change their lives for the better and, for those who are unbelievers, perhaps open their hearts to Jesus. There’s nothing like someone seeing visible acts of the love of Jesus expressed toward them when they are feeling down and out.

5. One good way to honor a veteran is to be a good citizen by voting during elections, fighting for justice, and praying for our nation. One way to disrespect a veteran is to disrespect the nation for which they fought.

6. May we do everything we can to minister to veterans with the hopes that they will experience many good years after, and during their service.

My sons served in the United States Air Force and, even though I spent many nights praying that God would keep them safe, I’m proud to say they served their country well. One still serves in the Air Force Reserve. Many parents, spouses, or children can’t say their loved ones returned from serving. Also, some returned partially but not completely whole, therefore as we thank our veterans, let us not forget to thank their families.

If a veteran or a veteran’s family is reading this column, please know that this Mother of two Veterans thank you for your service and the sacrifices you have made. God bless.

 Presiding Elder (Retired) Ella M. Samuels

7711 Astoria Place

Raleigh, North Carolina 27612

African Methodist Episcopal Church.

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