Thank You for Your Service and Welcome Home
A few years ago I attended a presentation by a personal history colleague and mentor Mary O’Brien-Tyrrell. She served in Vietnam as a nurse, and during her talk, she described the mood of the country when she and her fellow veterans returned home. “Thank you for your service and welcome home” were not always in our fellow citizens' vocabulary back then.
If you read my article about putting yourself in someone else's shoes, you'll know how hard it is for me to put myself in a veteran's shoes, not to mention a veteran who was treated so poorly.
I have not forgotten Mary's advice, and now I say, “Thank you for your service and welcome home.” to veterans throughout the year and especially on Veterans Day. I hope you'll join me and do the same.
Thank you for your service
and welcome home!
Every November, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Not only do I count my blessings on Thanksgiving, but on Veterans Day, I also find myself in awe of the men and women who have put their lives on the line for my protection and freedom.
I also consider the families who live without their loved ones so that I can go about my day without interruption. The videos and stories of active military members surprising their families with a homecoming always make my eyes well up with appreciation. Why would they choose (or accept) such a dangerous job that separated them from their families? Could I ever be so courageous or so selfless?
When I work with Storytellers who have served in the military, their stories break my heart but also renew my hope. They tell stories of their mindsets during battle, their boredom during the downtime, their fellow soldiers, the fun they experienced, and the people they helped. They speak of their families and their country. And, they rarely recognize the sacrifice that they’ve made for my family and me.
The websites for the National WWII Museum and the Department of Veterans Affairs estimate that 372 WWII veterans pass away every day. Their stories and the stories of all veterans are critical to our history. It’s true that sometimes veterans do not want to talk about their experiences, but according to The Greatest Generation Speaks by Tom Brokaw, many WWII veterans often do not share their stories simply because no one asked.
Will you be the one who asked your veteran loved one to share and save his or her story? If not you, who will and when?
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