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Honor veterans now, save questions for later

Photo courtesy of MCT

Generally speaking, I am not a huge fan of holidays. I find that most of them are just ways to get Americans to spend money on things that we don’t really need. Halloween, Independence Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Sweetest Day, even Thanksgiving and Christmas and Easter to some extent, are all just ways to separate me from my hard-earned cash.

Granted, all those holidays have roots in history and tradition (except Sweetest Day, the point of which I’m still not clear on after four years in Ohio), and I’m not knocking that. But it seems that America is so much more focused on the tangible, consumerist aspects of these holidays than on their history or religious significance.

There is one holiday that has managed to escape this quagmire. Veterans Day, which — for those of you living under a rock — is tomorrow, comes with few companies clamoring for you to buy their junk. In fact, most people will pass the holiday by, grateful to have an extra day to sleep in or get work done, or to be able to go out and get drunk. There are no fancy ads, no special colors, no candy. Just one quiet day off of work or school, for most people.

Although I love that Veterans Day has no commercial ties, it saddens me that it passes so quietly, without much fanfare. If any holiday deserves fanfare, it’s Veterans Day. What other holiday (besides maybe Memorial Day — Veterans Day’s springtime cousin) is dedicated solely to remembering those who have fought to preserve the values that this country holds so dear?

I understand that America’s military history is a somewhat touchy subject, especially the past couple decades of it. There are plenty of well-founded questions and doubts about whether all of our military actions have been honorable in the past. I think these are valid questions and I personally find myself asking them on a regular basis. But Veterans Day is not the day to get bogged down in deciding whether you agree with all of the wars and battles our country has gotten itself into. Veterans Day is not about the military. Veterans Day is about our veterans.

In this country, in our generation, we are lucky enough not to have to serve in the armed forces. Those who serve do so willingly. Because of that, most of us do not feel the impact that military service has on both the members of the military and their families. For this, you should be grateful. You should be thankful that there are men and women who are willing to put their lives on hold for a few years, or for a lifetime, so that you don’t have to. These men and women put their lives on the line to better the world and protect our country. If that is not a noble goal, I’m not sure what is.

This Veterans Day, take some time to think about all the good our veterans have done. From freeing prisoners in concentration camps after World War II, to aiding victims of the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, to building schools in Iraq, our service men and women have done worlds of good. That is not to say the military has been nothing but beneficial, but rather to remind you to look at the good our veterans have done. Friday morning you can question. Thursday, take one day to think of and thank our troops for all they have done for us. They deserve our thanks.

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