Today is the day we have set aside as a nation to formally remember the men and women who have served the United States of America in its armed forces in dedication to keeping this nation safe and free. We honor those men and women with ceremonies, parades, and moments of silence, hoping to express our gratitude that they have been willing to do what so many have not.
Yet, I cannot help but wonder why we do it.
To me, Veteran’s Day is not so much about paying honor to the men and women who have served. I can assure you, especially in our modern, all-volunteer military, those men and women know why they do what they do and need no day of honor as a reminder. Instead, to me, this day is about reminding ourselves that there are people who do a job on our behalf that allows us to do the things we want as safe, free Americans.
As a veteran, I can say that it doesn’t bother me that banks and stores stay open or that schools are still in session. It doesn’t really matter to me if people take time off to remember or to say thank you. It was for the continuation of these things that I served, and I am happy to see them go on.
What does bother me is that fewer and fewer people think about why veterans have served. I do not claim to represent everyone who has worn a uniform, but I know I served because I want my nation to have the chance to be its best. I want every American to have the same safe, free starting point from which to launch themselves toward their dreams and ideas and goals. I served so that Americans can pursue life, liberty, and happiness to their fullest without fear of enemies foreign or domestic.
It may seem conceited to say this, but if you want to honor me today, don’t think about me. Think about yourself and about what you are doing to advance the cause veterans have already sacrificed to give you the chance to be a part of. Don’t make excuses for why you can’t be part of that cause, because when you do, you’re not honoring veterans at all, and what they have done is in vain.
Life, liberty, and happiness is why we do this. Remember that.