How to Thank a Veteran on Memorial Day

American Flag and Ferris Wheel

Enjoy summer, but remember the veterans whose sacrifices made our classic American Summer possible.

Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer, but more important, it honors the people who have made it possible for us to enjoy our American summer to the fullest.

My family and I recently camped in Branson, MO, and we went to three excellent shows that had one thing in common: American patriotism that literally brought us to our feet. We stood, clapped, put our hands over our hearts, recited the Pledge of Allegiance, and sang America the Beautiful with one voice. For a few special moments, we were united as Americans, and remembered the veterans who gave us the freedoms we enjoy today.

National Cemetery

National Cemeteries across the country are decorated with flags in a special Memorial Day tribute.

So, on Memorial Day, I want to salute every veteran who has served this country.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to drive around the country towing my shiny new Airstream.Thank you for giving me leisure time to hang out with friends and family on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you for the chance to whine about religion and politics, because no matter what side of which aisle you sit on, the freedom to whine is a gift in and of itself.

The Knudsen brothers, who perform the show SIX (an amazing show – if you’re going to Branson, don’t miss it) asked each generation’s active and retired military to stand, in turn, and be recognized. Freedom was no longer a vague patriotic concept. Freedom had a face, and a heart, and a proud family.

If you’d like to hear the Knudsen’s beautiful harmonies,  listen to them singing the Star Spangled Banner.

My family’s most famous veteran is my mother in law, Josephine. And I thought of her that night in the theater as the World War II veterans in the audience stood.Josephine was recently interviewed by the Admiral Nimitz museum in Fredericksburg, Texas, which is preserving the history of the World War II generation, and honoring all veterans, past and present.

The Nimitz staff was especially interested in Josephine’s stories, because as an Army nurse, she was one of very few women working close to the front lines. She waited in the channel on D-Day, then six days later, helped set up the evac hospital on Omaha Beach. In fact, she helped move and re-establish the evac hospital 20 times as the war came to and end.

After talking with Josephine again after the trip to Branson, I tried to think of a few good ways to say Thank You to our military heroes, past and present. Here are three suggestions:

1. Acknowledge them. When you see someone in uniform, make it a point to stop and shake their hand.  A smile and the words, “thank you for your service,” go a long way.

2. Send a care package. Here’s a blog post from a military wife with some helpful hints about what to include.

3. Welcome them home. Every soldier returning home deserves a hero’s welcome. Join with your community and meet them at the airport. Wear the red, white, and blue, and show them they’re not forgotten.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The Tomb of the Unknown Solder in Washington, DC ensures that we never forget the sacrifices that keep Americans free.

Who are the veterans in your life? We invite you to share their names and their stories here, and be sure to tell them how much we appreciate their service!

To all our Veterans, from everyone at Camper Clinic II, we’re thinking of you this Memorial Day.

~ Elaine Acker