Veterans Day is a time to celebrate the legacy of America’s heroes, to give thanks to the millions of American veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.
For the Nevada Department of Veterans Services, Veterans Day is our Super Bowl, Olympics and World Series combined. We take great pleasure and satisfaction in thanking veterans for their service throughout the year, but especially on this important day. And on this occasion, I ask you to consider who we are thanking — and why.
Veterans Day is not just about singling out heroes; those whose significant acts of courage at key times and places resulted in acclaim. Rather, it is about commemorating the thousands upon thousands of commitments made by ordinary people. Men and women who dedicated themselves to the defense of this great idea we call the “United States of America.” They did so not because they loved war, but for a higher purpose — to protect our Nation and preserve our freedom. To stand up for their neighbors, and for their principles; principles such as liberty, justice, equality, and the right to live free from tyranny.
We are blessed to have over 21 million veterans alive today. Some have served on battlefields across time and space, but others served in less-risky jobs: working in offices, motor pools, warehouses, aircraft-maintenance facilities and hospitals and on our bases in the United States — supporting those sent into harm’s way. Regardless of how they served, our veterans were prepared to defend our nation.
So, when you thank a veteran for their service, thank them for what they were WILLING to do — not for the number of beaches they landed on or the number of enemy they killed. Thank them for standing up and saying “I will serve this nation and its people.”
I will occasionally talk to a vet who thinks that his or her service is in some way diminished because they were not in direct conflict, or suffers guilt that they returned when their comrades did not. Let’s work together to help them celebrate their survival and to understand that their heroism was in the fact that they took the risk — not that they took the bullet.
Getting wounded does not make you a hero, although many of our wounded veterans and those who did not return home did indeed act heroically and we are deeply humbled by their sacrifices. The true measure of a hero is standing up for what you believe in. So on this Veterans Day, please take time to thank all those who stood up for America. We are truly a nation that endures because of the courage of those who defend it. Happy Veterans Day!
Kat Miller is the director for the Nevada Department of Veterans Services and a retired colonel with 34 years of service in the Army.