What’s the best way to honor the sacrifice our veterans have made for our country? Huge sales on appliances? No! Here are some practical ways you and your parish might honor veterans this Veteran’s Day.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
Our veterans sacrifice much to protect our country and our way of life. So, what’s the best way to celebrate the sacrifices they make for us? Huge sales on furniture and appliances? No! Here are some practical ways that you and your parish might honor the brave men and women of our armed forces.
As a Family:
Although it’s important to acknowledge our Vets on this special holiday, we can do things to honor them all year long. Check out these ideas.
- Write thank you cards to Veterans and send them to your local Veterans society (like a VFW).
- Pray for our Veterans. The USCCB offers several prayers for the military.
- Thanksgiving is coming…offer to sponsor a military family (that has a parent deployed) for a dinner with a family from your parish (and skype the deployed member from the dinner location). Sometime soldiers are far from home and would love a home-cooked meal. You could contact your local base to see if you can host a soldier for a holiday meal.
- Make a family video thanking the dependent children for the sacrifices they make when their parent(s) are deployed and send the video to the nearest military catholic community teen youth program.
- There are many local and national Veteran’s programs that could use support. Contact a local VFW to see how you can help.
- Pets are a great comfort to Veterans when they come home. Check out the Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pets, to see how you can support them.
- Visit a VA hospital.
- Write to your Representatives in Congress to show your support for Veterans health care and programs to support their well-being.
- Be aware that many Veterans find difficulty readjusting to life after war, and find themselves facing life-threatening circumstances including homelessness. Many Catholic organizations offer support. Here’s an example of how a local Catholic Charities branch helps address their needs, and how you can help, too.
As a Parish:
Talk to your pastor or pastoral council about implementing some of these possibilities.
- Invite the closest military catholic community to do a prayer or a special mass for military members and their families and then have a meal or social afterwards
- Ask your priest do a monthly prayer of the faithful for military and dependents
- Contact the nearest military installation and talk to the priest and invite the priest to visit your parish to talk about military deployments and their impact on dependents
- Invite the nearest military Catholic community to attend one of your socials
45 more ideas
And here are 45 more ideas from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs:
- Attend a Veteran’s Day event.
- Ask a Veteran about their time in the military, and really listen to the answer.
- Hang a flag in your yard.
- Ask an aging Veteran to share with you the song that most takes them back.
- Visit the gravesite of a Veteran.
- Visit a homebound Veteran in their home, talk with them, and thank them for their service.
- Visit a homeless Veteran under a bridge, and do the same.
- Take a Veteran out to dinner.
- Take dinner in to a Veteran.
- Tell someone (your family, a friend, a neighbor) about an experience you had serving a Veteran at the VA.
- Take flowers to a Veterans memorial.
- Write and send a letter to someone who’s currently serving in the military .
- Ask a neighbor about their deployment.
- Call a Veteran family member.
- Thank a Veteran co-worker for their service.
- Take a private moment to be proud of your country.
- Teach someone (a child, a friend, a neighbor) what it means to be a Veteran.
- Share pictures of a Veteran with someone.
- Say a silent prayer for those who are serving.
- Learn about a current or past war/conflict (this will make you a better helper).
- Look up your ancestry and learn about someone in your family who was a Veteran.
- Hug your family, and tell them that it’s thanks to Veterans that you get to.
- Observe a moment of silence with family and friends.
- Read something a Veteran wrote about their experience.
- Wear your favorite “Pro-Vet” T-Shirt. (Examples: Free Hugs for Vets; Remember Our Fallen Veterans; Freedom is not FREE…; Thank a VETERAN; I Heart Veterans!).
- Buy a Buddy Poppy. Wear it all day, attach it to your purse or bag and keep it there until it falls apart. When people ask what it is, tell them.
- Read and share the poem “In Flanders Field the poppies grow”.
- Make sure your children and grandchildren know who the Veterans are within their own family, and share the family stories with them.
- Do a project about Veterans with young children or grandchildren. For example, let them make their own Veteran flag and plant it in a pot of flowers in front of the house.
- Write on your blog about your appreciation for Veterans.
- Help young children or grandchildren make a thank you card, and post them in the window or at a grocery store bulletin board or library or some other public place.
- (Good for any day:) Stand out in front of the VA greet Veterans as they are being dropped off at the door. Some older folks even need a hand getting out of the car.
- Tell a loved one why you enjoy serving Veterans.
- Buy a homeless Veteran a cup of coffee.
- Donate time or money or supplies to local Veterans Day drives.
- Volunteer to help a Veteran’s Service Organization (there are lots!).
- Take a moment to reflect on what it means to live in America.
- Gather with friends and family and watch a patriotic movie.
- Go to a Veterans Day parade.
- Write in your journal how thankful you are for the service of Veterans.
- Take a quiet moment and imagine hearing “taps” played in your head. Think about what it means.
- Thank a Veteran of his/her service while doing errands.
- Shake a Veteran’s hand.
- Send an email that tells a Veteran’s story to the people on your contact list.
- Pick one or two of the activities listed above, and resolve to do them at least one time every month this year when it’s NOT Veteran’s Day.
Special thanks to JB MDL MCCW (Military Council of Catholic Women) for sharing ideas for this article.