Salute to Spouses Blog

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Celebrate veterans, correctly

On Memorial Day my husband was thanked everywhere he went for his service. Yesterday on the Fourth of July he was thanked again, everywhere he went, for his service. Even on Labor Day last year he was lauded and praised.

Are we the only military family that is slightly irritated and perhaps appalled by how little Americans know about their own holidays?

Sure, my husband appreciates being thanked when he wears his Iraq Veteran hat. But it makes him more than a little uncomfortable when people are focused on him during Memorial Day weekend and not on honoring those who died in service to their nation.

It also makes him a lot uncomfortable when people spend that weekend focused solely on barbecue, storewide sales and drinking and never once head out to a veteran’s cemetery to raise flags or participate in a Memorial Day ceremony, but that’s another blog. 

Yesterday he was thanked again. But the 4th of July isn’t about veterans. On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson.

From 1776 to the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence.

In my husband’s mind this day represents our ability to come together as a nation and fight for the freedoms that he has sworn to fight for today. It is about the birth of our nation, not soldiers.

And Labor Day, that isn’t about the military either. It was intended to honor all of us. The day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and was designated a federal holiday by Grover Cleveland in 1894.

Thank your veterans, yes, absolutely. But maybe the biggest thanks you can give them is to participate fully in the American experience that they have fought dearly and lost much to protect for you.

Celebrate American holidays. Vote. Volunteer. And above all else, appreciate this nation and care for it with as much vigor and love as they have. 

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