Thank a Veteran Today

November 11, 2011

Walking outside on a cool fall day, you may spot a bumper sticker that says “Freedom Isn’t Free” and wonder what it means. Well, it means exactly that. Our freedom here at home isn’t free. It depends on hard-working and dedicated men and women in the armed forces who put their lives on the line around the globe. From the Revolutionary War that granted us many of the freedoms we enjoy today to the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, our veterans have served with distinction. This Friday, we will be celebrating Veterans Day in honor of all those who have served our country in the defense of these rights. As a nation at war, we have thousands of veterans returning home and picking up life where they left off. However you feel about the wars, it is important to remember how much the troops have sacrificed on our behalf.

Exactly one year after the end of World War I, Armistice Day was proclaimed a holiday by President Woodrow Wilson for November 11, 1919 in honor of those who had served our country during the war. In 1938, the U.S. Congress made November 11th a legal holiday, but it was not until 1954 that the holiday was renamed Veterans Day and expanded to honor all veterans. Despite long deployments abroad, members of our military are always ready to lend a helping hand here at home as well. In the aftermath of the recent and devastating snowstorm, the Connecticut National Guard was activated to help clear roads of debris, provide generators to local emergency operations centers, and oversee distribution of food and water to area towns. Beyond the nearly 6,200 troops who currently serve in the National Guard, we live among many more who have served in the national armed forces during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and many other conflicts.

There are some great events that you and your family can take part in on Friday. In Stratford, there will be a Veterans Day service at Academy Hill at 11:00am. In Shelton, there will be an event sponsored by American Legion Post 16 at the Veterans’ Memorial on the Shelton Riverwalk beginning at 10:30am. Following services and a luncheon at their headquarters on Bridgeport Avenue, members will visit Shelton Intermediate School. In Seymour, American Legion Post 10 will release a Navy wreath into the Naugatuck River at the Bank Street Bridge at 9:30am. They will also hold a service at 11:00am at French Memorial Park. Also, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 12084 will be hosting its annual Veterans Day Candlelight Service at 7:00pm at the Broad Street Park. And finally in Monroe, the American Legion Post 160 will be hosting the “11 on 11 at 11” Veterans Day Ceremony on the Stepney Green this Friday at 11:00am. However you choose to honor the holiday, make sure you remember our troops.

During the rest of the year, we should also make an effort to help our veterans as much as possible. I encourage you to reach out and volunteer in our community. There are many great veterans’ organizations in our state that could use our help. The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars organizations are excellent volunteer groups made up of veterans who give back to the community and support fellow veterans get accustomed to life at home when they return. A number of groups, such as Soldier Socks of Stamford or Give2TheTroops of Rocky Hill, collect and donate care packages of essential supplies and letters to troops stationed overseas. Whether you donate time, money or goods, it makes a difference in these soldiers’ lives. Also, consider volunteering with the Department of Veterans Affairs, an excellent resource for our aging veterans. For more information on volunteering at one of the twelve VA facilities in our state, please visit www.volunteer.va.gov.