November 11, 2021
Dear RVU Family,
Veterans Day began as a celebration of the end of World War I. Originally known as Armistice Day, it is celebrated today because hostilities in WWI ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. In 1954, US veteran organizations successfully lobbied to have Armistice Day changed to Veterans Day to celebrate the service of all US military veterans.
Veterans deserve a special place in our society. They have volunteered years of their lives for the protection of our democracy and way of life. They were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for you and for me. There are approximately 19 million veterans in the United States.
My uncle, who was a veteran of World War II, served in the Army Air Corp. as an aerial photographer, responsible for documenting enemy troop movements, mostly in North Africa. He rarely talked about his experiences in the military, and never spoke of the time that his plane was shot up with some of the crew seriously injured. He came home from the war, became a very successful businessman, and went on to become the President and CEO of a major US corporation. When he passed away, I was surprised to find that his final wishes were to have a military funeral and burial in a military ceremony. The lesson I learned was that the years he spent in the Army, more than 50 years before his death, were extremely powerful to him, whether he discussed them or not.
As you walk into or out of the buildings today, whether in Utah or Colorado, please take a moment to look at our beautiful American flag, the symbol protected by the veterans’ service. Think about a veteran you know – perhaps a family member or friend, perhaps one of our great military program faculty members, and don’t hesitate to reach out to them. A special thank you to all the members of our RVU family who are either former military, active duty, or just beginning their service.
A survey by the Cohen Veterans Network reported that almost half of veterans feel uneasy when they are thanked for their service. The poll found that the following questions were more desired by veterans:
- When did you serve (71%)
- Where were you stationed (71%)
- What was your job while serving (73%)
Here is an opportunity for us to engage a veteran and listen. Let them tell their service stories if they wish. The more attentive you are, the more likely they are to share.
One final thought from the survey. The majority of veterans said they enjoyed shows of support that were personal and meaningful instead – Try something like “I appreciate your and all of the sacrifices you and your family have made” (https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/local/some-veterans-dont-like-to-be-thanked-for-their-service/65-385e06d6-eff4-4071-8b05-51cef63bf2a5).
Enjoy Veterans Day today – and remember why we commemorate this holiday. I can think of no better reason for a moment of reflection and gratitude.