On November 11th, Americans celebrate Veterans Day. The federal holiday honors the brave men and women of the armed forces who risk their lives to protect our freedom. They include members of the US Army, Navy, Marine Corps, National Guard, Air Force, and the Coast Guard.
There is often confusion between Veterans Day and Memorial Day, the latter of which is celebrated on the last Monday of May. Although both honor United States military personnel, Memorial Day is set aside to remember and pay tribute to those who died while in military service or from an injury or illness sustained while in military service.
On the other hand, Veterans Day celebrates the service of all US military veterans during war or peace. The primary purpose of this day is to thank living veterans for their bravery and contribution to our national security.
The holiday, formerly known as Armistice Day, was first celebrated on November 11, 1919, to honor World War I soldiers. The date was selected because major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 when the Allied Nations and Germany reached a cease-fire, or Armistice, which led to the end of the ‘Great War,’ as it often called. This day coincides with similar holidays celebrated in other countries, where it is still often referred to as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day. The US holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1954 as a day of tribute so that all military personnel could be honored.
Today there are approximately 20.4 million military veterans in the United States. The brave men and women who have served and protected the United States come from all walks of life. They may be children, parents, or grandparents. They are friends, neighbors and coworkers, and all are an important part of our communities.
LP Magazine asked several military veterans or military supporters who are currently part of the loss prevention community in one way or another to share their experiences with being a veteran (or close to one) and what it means to them to have served their country.
Melissa Mitchell, CFI, LPC, Director of Asset Protection at MAPCO Express and an Air Force veteran
“Being a veteran means that I served in the interest of having free and fair elections in which all citizens are allowed to participate, and allowed to express our political views without fear of reprisals. It means that I served to help make sure that people in this great nation can practice the religion they so choose, or not practice any religion at all. My service was in the equal interest of those people I agree with on everything and those with whom I agree on nothing. Being a veteran means that I am literally unable to make it through hearing the “Star-Spangled Banner” without tears in my eyes as I think of those who sacrificed so much more than I did. It means that I have an instant connection with any other veteran in the room. (Even if they were a member of one of those “other branches” of the military!) My service means that I have a deeper understanding of camaraderie. Being a veteran means that I was allowed the great honor and privilege of spending four years doing something very difficult, for very little financial compensation, but walking away with priceless rewards like the love and gratitude I have for this country.”
Kevin Lynch, Executive Director of Business Development for Tyco Integrated Security and a Navy veteran
“I am a graduate of the United States Naval Academy (1978) and a US Navy veteran. It was an honor to take the oath to protect our country. This nation, despite its warts, its political and social discord, is still the best place to live on Planet Earth. From Revolutionary War veterans to the veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq, there is a guttural commitment to protecting the freedom we experience in the Unites States of America. There is a pressure, and many times, a lasting scar for one who has served in the military. It is not necessary to ‘Thank Them for Their Service’—but understand that a veteran may have put his or her life on the line to protect the freedoms we take for granted here in America.”
Jim Lee, Executive Editor of LP Magazine
“Although I am not a veteran, I did have the privilege to witness firsthand my step father, a career master sergeant, and brother, decorated Vietnam hero, serve in the military. Both kind of fumbled their early adult years and were trying to find some direction in their lives. Then circumstances led both of them to the Army. They both flourished, and my stepfather made a career out of it. Discipline and pride of country became his mantra for life. My brother was just a natural warrior when our country needed warriors. Three years of service, of which two were spent in Vietnam, were enough for him, and his life thereafter carried the designation of Veteran. As a kid, I was taught certain ways to do things and certain things to say. Like make my bed immediately upon getting up. Keep my shoes shined to military specs. Do my own laundry and iron my own clothes. Stand up for the national anthem, remove my cap, and put my right hand over my heart. I am so proud of both of them, and honor and respect are my memories of them on Veteran’s Day.”
This post was originally published in 2016 and 2018 and was updated November 11, 2020.