Veterans Day on November 11 is a day for the people of the United States to honor those men and women who have served our country in the armed forces. For aging and elderly veterans, the holiday is an important time to reflect on their experiences and receive recognition for their deeds, and in senior living communities, it’s likely that there are several residents who have served.
Whether you’d like to take some time this Veterans Day to honor the veterans around you, or you are a veteran yourself, here are some meaningful ways to observe the holiday:
1. Plan an Oral History Interview or Discussion
Oral history projects such as the Veterans History Project are reaching out to veterans across the country to preserve their memories and experiences for future generations. The interviews are informal and meant to be comfortable and companionable to make it as easy as possible for veterans to talk about experiences that may be troubling. Most oral history projects recommend one-on-one interviews, but a group discussion with several veterans can make it easier to exchange stories and memories. The most important part of any oral history project, after all, is preserving authentic first-hand accounts. The Veterans History Project has a list of suggested interview questions to get the conversation started, but from there, let it wander. The most interesting stories can come from unexpected places.
2. Pack Care Packages
While Veterans Day is for honoring those who have already finished serving honorably in the armed forces, it’s also a good day to show support to those who are currently serving. Organizations such as Operation Gratitude help people connect with deployed troops to send care packages, which typically include little comforts from home that are difficult to get on deployment. This is a great social activity for veterans to engage in, as they can recall what they would have appreciated, the sort of rations they received, and more details about their service as they continue to support the armed forces.
3. Attend Local Celebrations
Local governments and schools often organize parades or assemblies to honor Veterans Day. If you are a veteran, consider talking to school groups about your service, or attend a school event. Putting a face to history helps kids understand the reality of what they learn. Local parades celebrate the service of our veterans, and local businesses and organizations may offer discounts or donate proceeds to services that help veterans.
4. Thank the Veterans Around You
This is one of the simplest, but most meaningful things you can do to celebrate Veterans Day. Take a moment to shake the hand of the veterans around you and thank them for their service. A small gesture can mean a lot, and for veterans in senior living communities, gratitude from peers, caretakers, family, and friends can have more significance than large events and speeches.
However you choose to celebrate Veterans Day, we hope you have some time to support the aging and elderly veterans who have done so much for our country. From all of us at Vista Springs, happy Veterans Day and thank you for your service!