Ken Beaton: Have you thanked a vet?
Are you ready for your first question of the day? Great! What are you doing on May 28, 2018? Formerly known as Remembrance Day, it’s Memorial Day. Don’t even begin to tell me about the barbecue, a “honey do” project, cutting the lawn or the other events. I have 1,264,000 reasons why you should thank a vet.
Beginning on March 5, 1770, a squad of British troops massacred five unarmed male citizens, four whites and one African-American on King Street in Boston. Over the past 248 years, 1,264,000 young men, some only boys, made the ultimate sacrifice. The War Between the States claimed 620,000 boys with a few females fighting in male uniforms, 51,000 lives were lost at the three-day Battle of Gettysburg. All of our country’s other conflicts claimed 644,000 young lives.
I received an email from a Nevada business encouraging Nevadans to buy local with 10 suggestions for Memorial Day.
Attend a Memorial Day event. Virginia City usually has a parade. Bring some fresh-cut flowers and give a flower to a vet in the parade. Extend your hand, shake their hand as you tell him or her, “Thank you for your service.”
Make a donation to one of the veterans nonprofits. Women Airforce Service Pilots trained at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. One thousand one hundred and seventy-four women passed the same tests male pilots had to pass. The WASPs were ferry pilots, flying planes from factories to their assigned base. Thirty-eight WASPs died in the line of duty. Consider making a donation, http://www.waspmuseum.org/give.html, or donate to the National Museum of the U.S. Army, which is under construction at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, by calling 1-800-506-2672 or going to https://armyhistory.org/. Contact the USO, United Service Organization, to make a gift in honor of a loved one to support service members and their families, https://www.uso.org/donate/donate-in-honor. Those are three of many worthy veterans nonprofits.
Hold a corporate potluck. Gather your coworkers, bring your own meat and sign up for a side dish. Invite one or more veterans to enjoy your food and ask them questions about their service. It could be the history lesson you’ll never forget.
Write a letter to a service man or woman. Operation Gratitude has forwarded more than 7 million letters to service men and women (http://www.amillionthanks.org/send_a_letter.php). One officer told Operation Gratitude, “My men and I would rather receive a letter from a complete stranger than food!” Sit down and appreciate this moment: men preferring letters from a stranger to food, this is a first!
Visit the veterans section of a cemetery. Bring some cut flowers and decorate veterans graves in Carson City’s Lone Mountain Cemetery. If you’re up for a ride, visit the Northern Nevada Veterans Cemetery in Fernley. Veterans and their spouse may be buried together at this beautiful cemetery.
Send a care package. Operation Gratitude has shipped more than 2 million packages. Individuals, families or workplace teams can participate. Fifteen dollars will ship one care package. Go to https://www.operationgratitude.com/ for information.
Perform random act of kindness. When you enter a coffee shop, pub or restaurant and see a vet wearing a ball cap that says, “WW II Vet,” “Korean War Vet,” “Vietnam Vet” (specially Nam vets) or any of the vet caps; walk up to that vet, smile, extend your right hand, as you give the vet a firm handshake and say, “Thank you for your service.” For a Vietnam vet, say, “Welcome home!” Buy the vet a cup of coffee. If he or she already has coffee, buy the vet a gift card.
Decorate your cubicle at work. Decorate your cubicle with small American flags or red white and blue streamers. Click on https://www.amazon.com/ and enter patriotic decoration for ideas. You can make your own decorations or buy them.
Visit a local museum. The Nevada State Museum, at 600 N. Carson St., has an informative World War I exhibit. This is the 100th anniversary of the end of the “Great War.” Better yet, become a member of the Nevada State Museum. Visit the Elko, Ely, Las Vegas museums, which include a live butterflies exhibit, or both train museums.
Observe one minute of silence. This is perfect if you mention you don’t have any money or can’t spare the time. On Memorial Day at 3 p.m., stop everything for 60 seconds to reflect on the 1.26 million Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice so you speak English today.
If you’re thinking, “We’ll be at a barbecue!” Be creative and work one or more of the 10 suggestions into your barbecue celebration. Assign a child or children to write letters to our men and women serving. “Dear Soldier, my dad is being so mean! He’s making me write this letter to you. I think you’re great! I want to thank you because I speak and write English today. Your friend, Butch.”
Be generous, shake the hand of more than one vet.
Ken Beaton of Carson City contributes periodically to the Nevada Appeal.