Andrew’s Note: Today we take a step back from discussing preparedness and feature an article on Veterans Day Etiquette that I wrote several years ago. Republishing this article has become an annual event here at Prepography in order to honor those who understand that selfless service is required to keep our Nation free. Veteran’s Day freebies from retailers are nice but a heartfelt word of appreciation or recognition from our fellow citizens certainly means more to us. Happy Veterans Day!
For the first sixteen years of my military career there was little need for a primer on Veterans Day etiquette as there was little public recognition of the day other than a few restaurants that thanked our Nation’s Veterans with a free meal and a Federal holiday. All that changed in September 2001… since that time there’s been a renewed gratefulness from the U.S. population towards its current and former military service members. That gratitude has played out in many ways and one of those ways is by a renewed interest in Veterans Day.
Before we explain Veterans Day etiquette, let’s look at the history of Veterans Day
Unlike Memorial Day which honors our war dead, Veterans Day is a day set aside to honor our living veterans. The timing of Veterans Day grew out of Armistice Day from World War I. Although the peace treaty wasn’t signed until June 28th 1919 the armistice went into effect the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month (1918). This armistice was the end of the over-optimistically named ‘war to end all wars.’ President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first “Veterans Day Proclamation” in 1954 at the urging of Congress to officially expand the observance of Armistice Day into Veterans Day. You can read more about the history of Veterans Day at History of Veterans Day – Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
Here’s one old soldier’s guide to Veteran’s Day etiquette based primarily on my family’s traditions, as well as my own feelings and experiences.
Veterans enjoy free meals, and a good deal like everyone else, but an expression of appreciation means so much more to most of us. If you appreciate your freedom, consider expressing that appreciation to those that made it possible.
I was sitting next to a friend a few years back during a salute to veterans at a conference we were attending. The musical tribute was a medley of the U.S. military service songs and the musical director asked the veterans in the audience to stand when their service’s song was played. This friend, who had enlisted and served for six years in the National Guard during peacetime turned to me and asked me if he was a veteran. Make no mistake folks, if you served honorably in the Active or Reserve U.S. military forces (yes the National Guard is part of our Reserve Force) you are a veteran. We honor service, not just wartime service because those who serve during peace-time are our strongest deterrent to war.