Tips for Celebrating Veterans’ Day - Part 1
More and more companies are recognizing the sacrifice, commitment and dedication of our military service members, veterans and military families. From advertisements in newspapers, to special events, to discounts and coupons, celebrating Veterans Day is an event to thank those who gave so much to ensure our freedom.
If you, like many Americans, aren’t clear on the difference between Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Veterans Day, allow me to clarify:
- Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.
- The 4th of July, also referred to as Independence Day, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
- Veterans Day is an official United States public holiday, that honors military veterans, that is, persons who served in the United States Armed Forces. The U.S. holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.
As you can see, these dates are not significant for the same reason. While they all represent historic markers in our Nation’s history, many civilians make the mistake of “thanking” a veteran for their service in honor of Memorial Day (when we actually honor those who died) or mistaking Veterans Day as a day to remember our Nation’s independence.
Celebrating Veterans Day as a Company
When companies choose to publicly celebrate Veterans Day, the first step is a real understanding of the meaning of the day. As your company prepares to recognize the men and women who served, consider:
- Inviting one (or more) of your veteran employees to speak to the company about their service. Encourage them to share why they joined the military, why they selected the branch(es) in which they served, what jobs they held while on Active Duty, and why they ultimately left their military career.
- Connecting with a local Veteran Service Organization (VSO) where your employees can meet, and visit with, veterans from different eras and conflicts. Most communities have a VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) or American Legion Post nearby, and arranging a visit by your team can shed great insight.
- Setting up a volunteer day with a VSO or agency in your area dedicated to serving veterans. Whether your employees are asked to help build a house for a disabled veteran, mentor a group of young veterans, or box supplies being sent to installations overseas, hands-on service with veterans connects your employees directly to those men and women they seek to honor.
Honoring the men and women of the Armed Forces can also mean recognizing the military families who sacrifice and give so much of their own lives for our freedom. Consider supporting a group that encourages or assists military spouses, or attend an event honoring Gold Star Families (families of the fallen), or contribute to a scholarship fund for children of military veterans. There is no shortage of ways to support, encourage and honor those who have served our country.
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