Over the weekend, I finished the HBO series, Band of Brothers (hey, better late than never!) and I was completely blown away. The series follows a group of World War II soldiers that are fighting against the Germans in Europe. More than the cinematography or the acting, I was more amazed by these men who put their lives on the line in numerous situations for their country and their fellow brothers in war. I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful for these heroes, and then I realized this morning that tomorrow is Veterans Day. Each November 11, the nation stops to honor the men and women who served in the Armed Forces, but not everyone knows the history and traditions behind this significant national holiday. Here are some facts to help you understand why we are celebrating this special day:
- There are 21.8 million veterans living in the U.S.
- There are 1.6 million female veterans
- 71% of veterans cast their ballot in the 2008 presidential election. 61% of non-veterans turned in their ballots. Vets still beat the national average. In 2010, 57% of veterans voted versus 40% for the national as a whole.
- 7.6 million Vietnam-era veterans are living in the U.S. right now. Another 4.8 served during the Gulf War, 2.6 million in Korea, and 2.1 million during World War II. There are no living American veterans of World War I.
- If you live in Florida, Texas, or California, chances are you have a neighbor who is a veteran. Each of those 3 states has more than a million people who served in uniform.
- The postal service is the largest employer of veterans. 130,000 veterans work for the Post Office which makes up 22% of their employees.
- Elvis Presley, Montell Williams, MC Hammer, Tony Bennett, Chuck Norris, Bill Cosby are just a few celebrities who have served the country.
- Veterans Day is often confused with Memorial Day. While Memorial Day honors American service members who died in their service to their country, Veterans Day honors both but gives special thanks to living veterans.
Last November, a entry was also written about Veterans Day and how technology has made a huge impact on how the soldiers perform today. There are many different phone applications that allow you to contribute and to help out our soldiers who are out on the field:
1. World War II Memorial App. This smartphone app helps you explore the World War II Memorial, sharing war stories as part of a virtual tour and offering a database to pull information up on those killed. The App is available on iTunes & Google Play.
2. The Honor Wall. This website from ancestry.com is based on more than 20 million records and personal memories uploaded by loved ones, which honors service members who served from current wars all the way back to the Revolutionary War. The Honor Walldocuments letters home, photos and awards of veterans.
3. TroopTree. TroopTree is a free private video messaging platform for military families to stay in touch with their loved ones overseas. KeepTree provides the free service which allows soldiers or their family members to leave messages for each other to be viewed at any time. The videos can be stored and saved forever so families can rewatch the videos. Message can also be made ahead of time for family to watch at a later date.
4. Cell Phones for Soldiers. This service recycles old cell phones and turns them into calling cards for soldiers. Since its inception, Cell Phones for Soldiers has provided 181 million minutes of free talk time for soldiers as well as help recycle 10.8 million cell phones! Find out how you can recycle your old cell phone today.
5. Cup of Joe for a Joe. For just $2, you can send a cup of coffee to a soldier. California based coffee company Green Beans Coffeehas several cafes serving soldiers at military bases in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, Djibouti East Africa, Oman, and United Arab Emirates.
6. Discounts. Militarybenefits.info lists discounts, sales and everything free for vets and their families, ranging from free dinners to haircuts and oil changes. There is also a meal guide of deals for not only veterans, but also active duty and retired military. Many offers require a valid military ID or proof of military service.
The number of veterans is huge! Veterans Day means more then taking a day off from school or work. Veterans Day marks an opportunity to pay our respects to those serving during times of war, and to honor the soldiers who return from war. Our heroes deserve our respect. Many of these brave soldiers are battling with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and some haven’t seen their family in years. Let’s remember to support, understand, and thank a veteran not just tomorrow but every chance we get!
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