Reflecting on Veterans Day, the right to live in a just country

Reflecting on Veterans Day, the right to live in a just country

Reflecting on Veterans Day, the right to live in a just country

Amanda Gerstenfeld

What does it feel like to serve one’s country? Veterans know. Their service in the military, whether long or short, in war or peacetime, is an extraordinary commitment that shapes their lives. Many people see their dedication as the product of an intense amount of love and respect for their country. While this is true, their actions go beyond love of a homeland. The people they aim to protect are the driving force of their love. Too often are veterans honored for one day and forgotten during the other 364. 

This past Saturday, Nov 11, our country celebrated Veterans Day. It came at the tail end of a year that has witnessed one of the most divisive political climates in recent years. This division frequently leaves the realm of politics and seeps into the daily lives of Americans. Arguments over issues in the news feel like common occurrences that strain relationships and make us doubt whether or not we can solve society’s problems. Against this backdrop of political and social uncertainty, Veterans Day takes on greater significance. We take the time to honor our military personnel, but we can also reflect on what their service means for a country desperately searching for unity.  

Veterans Day is not about politics. It is about people—the men and women in uniform who come from all corners of our country. Political figures and parties may try to focus on the holiday in order to garner support from the public and to be seen as more patriotic than their opponents, but the day is not about them. Veterans are not pawns to be used when convenient. They are human beings familiar with sacrifice, and we can learn so much from them. 

America is not the only country that honors military service on Nov 11. Remembrance Day, observed in Great Britain and other nations, remembers those in the armed forces who have died in the line of duty. It falls on Nov 11 to recall the end of hostilities in World War I. Both Veterans Day and Remembrance Day carry greater significance today in light of the current political turmoil and the constant threat of terrorism. We must honor not only the soldiers, both living and deceased, but also what they fought for—peace. I would argue that this peace is not the passive kind that allows for stagnation and injustice to thrive in society. 

The political climate we live in now is divisive and ugly at times, but if we accept the conflict and turmoil as something we cannot fix, then we are not honoring the veterans who fought for the right of Americans to live in a country where human dignity, equality and justice exist. The sacrifices of veterans should be a call for us all to work for a peace that benefits everyone. We must come together on Veterans Day and every other day to remember our veterans, see them as people, not a statistic and take the time to consider what their service means in the world we live in today. 

There are a variety of ways that we can serve our country. We can give our love, our time or our money to our country. Veterans put their lives in danger for it, and on Veterans Day, we remember their service. It is our opportunity to say thank you. Most importantly, it is an occasion when we can ensure that their sacrifices were not made in vain. Instead of allowing politics to divide us, we must focus on working for the good of every person. Unity can be reached if we fight for a future that prizes kindness, respect and justice above animosity, contempt and injustice. It is time to show our veterans that we can do more.