Veterans Day fell on a Friday this year. Hot Dog!! A 3-day weekend!! That’s the widely shared sentiment, right? The media generally pays lip service to veterans on this national holiday, and this year was no different. News shows aired some moving stories about aging World War II veterans as well as currently serving vets. Sports broadcasters took a few moments to recognize those who serve. All levels of government and most schools closed in honor of the day.
The cynic in me knows, however, that a 3-day weekend for Veterans Day really means a weekend getaway, a shopping extravaganza, or at the very least, 3 straight days to sleep in. A Tuesday Veterans Day, on the other hand, is just an interruption in the week. You can’t make any big plans because you have work or school the next day.
I try to do something meaningful each year on Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, etc. This year, I dragged the whole family to daily Mass at 7:30 a.m. Our parish church had a special celebration in honor of veterans along with a flag raising ceremony at the parish school. I live in an area with a huge concentration of military families, both active-duty and retired; and my parish has experienced the loss in combat of several parishioners during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Mass was fairly well-attended for such an early hour on a Friday morning. It got me thinking, though:
- Where are the young veterans? Perhaps many of them had to work if they don’t hold a government job. Certainly in my area, though, the number of folks who either work as civilians for the government or serve on active-duty is enormous. In a parish of 2000 families, only a handful felt this was an event worth attending? Of course, this is a question asked by many veterans organizations, too, according to this Fox News story.
- Are older vets more proud of their service than younger ones? At church that morning, many white-haired veterans donned their old uniforms for the occasion. Those who were not in uniform wore jackets or pins or ribbons announcing their service affiliation. Young veterans don’t often do this. You just don’t see them sporting “Proud to Have Served” apparel. And most young active-duty service members are loath to put on a uniform when not on duty.
- Speaking of uniforms, I saw a veritable timeline of uniforms on Friday morning. One old chap wore his green Service Uniform with the pants tucked into his boots. This seemed unusual. I think it has something to do with being a member of an air assault unit. Incidently, I have since learned that the green Service Uniform has been phased out in favor of a blue version. No more olive army green?? The new blue uniform was on display, too. You can always count on the Marines to appear smartly dressed, and the Marine dress uniform never seems to change. The Navy Service Dress Blue is pretty consistent as well. Air Force uniforms are a different story altogether. They change every few years, bouncing from commercial airline pilot look to Army copycat to a WWII throwback style. Good luck with all that.
- Military discounts for Veterans Day are great…except when they aren’t. I shopped at an XXI store (I think this is part of the Forever 21 brand.) over the weekend. When the clerk saw my military ID, he stated that they were offering a 15% discount for military in honor of Veterans Day. The catch was that if I took the discount, the merchandise would be considered Final Sale–no returns. What’s with that?? Strings attached?
- Finally, if you are the President of the United States placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month: GET THERE ON TIME!!