Yesterday was Veterans Day. All across the country, people were honoring those who have served our country. As a veteran, I appreciate those who have given thanks to everyone who has served our country. Contrary to some people’s belief, we do not serve because we don’t have anything else to do. We are not looking for an easy pay check. We serve because we firmly believe it is the right thing for us to do.
Like everyone else, I also thank everyone who has served. But, I am going to be a little selfish here. I want to send out a very special thank you and appreciation to our smallest service, the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard is an elite group of men and women who selfishly serve our country in more ways that I can even mention here. So, to all of my shipmates in the Coast Guard, I want to thank you for your service and for continuing our excellent tradition.
Even though it may be a little early, I wanted to pass along some things that you can do to show your thanks to our servicemen and women during the holidays. These men and women are working and/or away from home even during the holidays. Their family members are left to celebrate the holidays without them. But, there are things that you can do to show a little support.
If you live in an area where there is a Basic Training facility, please check and see if they have a holiday program. Great Lakes for example, has a program where local families can invite a recruit to Thanksgiving Dinner. It gives the recruit a chance to get off base for a short period of time and enjoy the holiday with someone else. These programs usually take some time to set up, that is why I am mentioning it now.
Whether or not you live in these areas, there is still something you can do to show appreciation. Most of us have ornaments we place on the Christmas Tree with family names on them, This year, when you decorate your tree, spend a little money on an ornament with the simple words: Service Member Who Cannot Be home for Christmas.
When you have your family dinner, set up an empty place at the table. Put down the plates, glasses, silverware as if someone was going to sit there. Then, when you toast the holiday in your own way, say a special toast to the empty chair as a “thank you” to our service members. The empty chair will remind you that all across this country, there will be empty chairs belonging to a service member who cannot be home for the holidays.
Contact the USO and find out if they can help you put together a package of food stuffs to send to our troops in combat areas. They really like the snacks they get in these packages. You can’t find them in Afghanistan.
These are small things we can do, but they will remind us of all of the sacrifices they and their families make on our behalf. Please remember, for every service member who cannot be home for the holidays, there are families who will miss them tremendously! They won’t see you make a toast at dinner, or see the ornament on the tree, but they may feel a little better just knowing you care enough to do them.