Showing gratitude during Veterans Day

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Laura Noel
  • Band of Liberty band manager
Veterans Day is upon us and it got me thinking about the way we celebrate this national holiday. The original concept for how we recognize Veterans Day was a day observed with parades, public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 to honor veterans of World War I. This special day, Armistice Day, was updated in 1954 by Congress to include and honor American veterans of all wars.

Now more than ever, amidst America's longest war, I have noticed an outpouring of support for our nation's troops and an increase of invitations for our military men and women to participate in local town events. There are a plethora of activities leading up to and surrounding Veterans Day and many opportunities to interact with our neighbors in the surrounding communities.

When I first enlisted in the Air Force, I don't recall the American public having such a strong desire to get to know our military members, shake our hands and hear our stories. These days, it's not uncommon for us to walk down the street in uniform and have a complete stranger thank us for our service or to pass through our local coffee shop only to find out when you get to the register that someone else has picked up the tab for that "Cup of Joe."

Our very own Public Affairs office has been inundated with phone calls and emails requesting our presence at local town events and our Airmen to speak to children at our local schools. It's truly heartwarming to see how the public cares and has supported us through the years, and I think it's really important for us to reciprocate that sentiment.

We should realize that without the support and backing of our fellow Americans we would not be able to successfully carry out our mission. We can very easily show our gratitude to the American public for their dedication and faith in us by getting out there in the local communities, shaking their hands and telling our stories so they can put a face with the name and branch of service and know that we appreciate them as well.

This weekend, as we honor our veterans, take the time to also think about our neighbors, all of whom in some way or another are connected to our military members. They are sisters, brothers, extended family members, neighbors and friends of our servicemembers, and they have made sacrifices at home in order for us to focus on the mission.

If you are unable to participate in the holiday events this weekend, keep in mind there are many opportunities to get involved throughout the year. Taking a bit of time on your part to engage with the public can pay huge dividends in terms of shaping public perceptions of our military and giving the public a deeper understanding of who we are.