Caleb S. Cage: Celebrating the holidays with veterans in mind
December 17, 2012
We are now right in the middle of the holiday season here in Nevada. It’s a time when Nevada families might get to enjoy time together, exchange gifts and otherwise celebrate the season. The holidays are also a perfect reminder to the rest of us of the costs and sacrifices that are endured on our behalf by those who are or were deployed into the troubled areas of the world. Last week, Gov. Sandoval placed a wreath on the steps of the capitol building in honor Nevada’s service members, veterans and their families. The wreath-laying is an annual event that brings together local leaders and members of the Carson City community and is sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution. The purpose of such events is to honor those who have served or who are serving, and also to educate future generations about the sacrifice endured by those who might be unable to participate in the holiday seasons that we all enjoy in our country.Falling right in the middle of the holiday season, these wreath-laying events come at a perfect time for their purposes to be fully enjoyed. Starting in early November and ending with the New Year, there are numerous holidays that our service members miss, and during which time we as a broader community make every effort to honor and appreciate their service. The governor’s ceremony at the capitol building last week communicated this effort perfectly. Every member of the U.S. Marine Corps and probably any of their family members knows that the holiday season officially begins with the birthday of the Marine Corps on Nov. 10. This year they celebrated their 237th birthday like they do every year, with a Marine Corps Ball completing with a cake-cutting ceremony and other festivities. While I never served in the Marine Corps, I have been to several of these in the past and they are always fun, but this year was by far the best: I joined a small group of active and retired Marines to cut cake and celebrate with a Marine who was in the intensive-care unit at Renown Hospital in Reno. It was simply extraordinary. The next day, of course, is Veterans Day, the federal celebration of military service around the state and nation. Our office applied to be considered for a federal program that would allow us to participate in the national events in Washington, D.C., by being designated as a Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Site. Our applications were for Elko County’s parade and the event we hold annually at the Nevada State Veterans Home, both of which were accepted by the national program, and joined countless other observances around the state. Following these holidays, of course, come the traditional family holidays of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas. These are often times when our families get together to share meals and gifts, and to celebrate, as the governor did earlier this week at his Menorah lighting ceremony, also at the capitol building. They are also times to remember that there are plenty who cannot enjoy the holiday season because of their commitment of personal sacrifice to their nation, as was obvious by the members of the National Guard and the veteran community there at the governor’s event last week. Right in the middle of all of these family holidays are two more important ones: Nevada’s Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day on Dec. 7, and the national Wreaths Across America event. I wrote about appreciating Nevada’s connection to the attacks on Pearl Harbor on its 71st anniversary last week. And this weekend, our veteran cemeteries in Fernley and in Boulder City hosted a few hundred members of the local and veteran communities to lay wreaths on the gravesides of the veterans and their family members who have been interred there.These ceremonies are wonderful opportunities to celebrate, remember and to pay tribute. They allow us to show our appreciation and also to pass on the importance of this appreciation to others. As we approach the end of the holiday season and look toward the New Year, I hope we can all appreciate the things that others have done and continue to do on our behalf. • Caleb S. Cage is the Executive Director of the Nevada Office of Veterans Services, appointed by Governor Brian Sandoval. You can read his log at veterans.nv.gov/blog.