Veterans Day 2017

Veterans Day is our opportunity to say collectively as a nation, “Thank you” to the men and women who have served and are currently serving in the military. Less than 1% of Americans serve today.

In the past, during periods of worldwide conflict — World War I and World War II — millions of Americans served. Men were drafted to fight in Korea and Vietnam. Through all of these conflicts, women served too.

2nd LT John Tennant, 1952

As I reflect on our veterans today, I think of one in particular. My 89-year old father, John Tennant. Sitting atop the desk where he sits in the living room every day is a photograph of a much younger man – home from training in the U.S. Army and just weeks away from when he would ship off to Korea. 2nd Lt. John Tennant was a tank commander in Korea.

As children growing up we knew that he served but the stories were never told. Slowly as the years have passed we are hearing a story here or a story there. He dislikes rice. A steady diet of it in Korea has turned him against it. Maybe it’s the memories the rice brings back or perhaps it’s just the taste. As far as I know, it could be a little bit of both.

He never really encouraged any of his children to join the military, but I think he does take pride in my brother’s service in the Air Force and my husband’s service in the Navy.

What he did encourage all of his children to do was to be active members of society. As former educator and principal, he believes we need to focus again on civics in school. And the first part of being involved in society is to vote.

We often hear people say, “Freedom isn’t free.” For some people it may be a cliché, but not for me. Civic responsibility begins with voting.

Voting is one way we can thank a veteran on this Veterans Day. If you truly believe that the men and women who fight for our freedom are doing so to protect our way of life, should you not honor them by more than saying, “thank you?” You can. You can vote!

“Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.” — Abraham Lincoln

Gettysburg National Cemetery, Sept. 2016

A few years ago, my family visited Gettysburg National Cemetery. We have also visited the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. You can’t visit these sacred places without reading the tombstones and realizing so many who have died far too young.

As we celebrate all those who have answered the call and served our nation in the armed forces, let’s also dedicated ourselves to honor them by thanking them for their service on this Veterans Day, but also remind ourselves that we too can become better citizens by doing our part to preserve our freedom and our way of life by voting.