Every veteran has sacrificed to protect the values the flag represents ... and millions have died.
What can you do on this Flag Day to say 'thank you' to an aging veteran parent, relative, friend or neighbor who survived but sacrificed his* time, his families and his livelihood?
One idea is to encourage him to record his personal war experiences so his grandchildren, great-grandchildren and future generations can learn how their family contributed to the history of the nation.
The Library of Congress Veterans History Project is collecting first-hand accounts of U.S. veterans and civilians who supported them.
The veterans' account can be submitted on CD, cassette, DVD, VHS or as an original memoir, wartime diary or journal or as a collection of letters or photographs.
There are millions of World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and Persian Gulf War stories not documented in books or official records. Don't let the story of a veteran you know be one of those untold.
You can assist a veteran by logging on to the Library of Congress Veterans History Project website, downloading a VHP Field Kit, and assembling the information.
If the veteran is reluctant to undertake this task, you can suggest that he search The Library of Congress Veterans History Project database to find old army, air force, coast guard, marine, or navy buddies with whom he may have lost contact.
There are many other ways to say 'thank you' in action rather than words:
- Prepare a special home-cooked meal or take a veteran out to dinner (or breakfast or lunch).
- Mow the lawn, clean the house, fix the shutters, take a veteran to a medical appointment or help with grocery shopping.
- Take a veteran to a ball game, to an amusement park, to the theater or to a movie. If a veteran is unable to get out, spend a few hours visiting with him in his home.
- Give a veteran a book about something that particularly interests him.
When you can't be there in person, you can say 'thank you' by phoning today and everyday (rain or shine) to chat, check on his health, remind him to take his medications and ask if there is anything he needs.
If you have other responsibilities that require your attention, arrange to have a professional service call your loved one for you ... to provide a welcome contact with the outside world and to let him know you are thinking of him.
More than 50 percent of U.S. veterans are now age 65 and older. Loss of spouses and friends as well as health and mental problems, incurred in battle or simply age-related, are depriving many veterans of the quality of life they fought to enjoy.
On this Flag Day, grateful citizens of the United States can say 'thank you' in so many ways (listed or not listed here). Saying 'thank you'' may not be enough ...show you appreciation by actually doing something to help.
* Since the majority of elderly veterans are male, the masculine pronouns are used here. However, every statement applies equally to the many women veterans.