What Veterans Day Means for Active Duty Military

Hey gang! Hope everyone had (or is having, if off for the holiday) a great weekend. 

This is a rare non-writing related post, and nothing overly complicated or earth shattering. Just me wanting to share some thoughts on a day/weekend that means a lot to my family and me. I'm also going to share a few details about my personal life, which I don't often do. Hope you enjoy...  

Credit: Lynn Kelley, WANA Commons
For many, Veteran's Day conjures images of 90 + year olds who fought in a World War. We think of those men and women who sacrificed--so many with their own lives--in the name of our country. 

My wife's grandfather is still living. He fought in every major theater in Europe, WWII. He was on the beach at D-Day, he fought at the Bulge, and missed the birth of his first child as a result (he didn't see our 'Aunt Sandra' for the first time until she was over 2 years old--she was afraid of him, incidentally). 

HE is a national treasure, because there just aren't many of his kind left.

And he's just 1 of numerous relatives we both have who have fought in wars and served over the years. My grandfather was in the Navy in WWII, as was her other grandfather. I have uncles who fought in Korea, a father-in-law who served during Vietnam, etc. 

There is a certain amount of reverence held for those people, and justifiably so.

My wife is an officer in the United States Air Force. She signed up nearly 10 years ago as part of a scholarship program. It's a life neither of us imagined for ourselves when were 18, I can tell you that. It definitely comes with compromises.

We get to live in a variety of places. We don't have to worry about her having a job when we relocate, or me having health insurance. But we've also had leave behind our families, and too many dear friends.

So when we went out for lunch yesterday and she received a free meal because of her current service, I dare say she felt no less pride and gratitude for the offering than any of those great people I mentioned above feel when someone would tell them 'thank you'. 

It's special, because 99.9% of the time she's like everyone else: just doing her job. And she expects all the recognition most people get for doing their job, which is to say not much. I can count on one hand the number of times I've had a boss say, "Hey, thanks for doing what we pay you to do."

They are willing, and required, to surrender their safety and comfort if called--no questions asked. It's implied, and gratitude is not necessary, but that doesn't mean it's not appreciated. 

For active duty military, the holiday is special for the same reasons that most of us think it's special. It's a way to honor those who've gone before. Most of our military friends have a family legacy of serving. They are carrying the mantle of grandfathers and mothers who also served. 

But the holiday also gives a rare moment of recognition to what THEY do, and are willing to do, on a daily basis. That makes them feel special and appreciated at their very core--even with the simplest thank you ... or maybe even a free cookie.

So, from the spouse of an active duty serviceperson to all of those who take the time and effort to honor someone who has served, or is currently serving in the military this weekend: Thank YOU. Know it means so much to all of them.



  1. I'm a military brat, and I appreciated what my father was willing to do for his country. It was his career by choice and he served in Vietnam. We moved around a lot as well, but I did get to see places and countries I never would've seen otherwise.

  2. What a touching post, EJ. Kudos and best wishes to your wife.

  3. Wonderful post, E.J. and I honor your wife's service and your willingness to support her. I spent 14 1/2 years in the US Army before becoming ill and no longer able to serve. Memories I'll never forget.

  4. Very cool to learn that about your wife. My father is an army vet, Korean war, and served in the reserves for another twenty years. He tried to get all four of us kids to join up, but my brother was the only one who actually did.

    Nice tribute to the vets today. :)

  5. I honestly think that men in uniform are so hot. I know that'd be insulting to most soldiers so I keep what I think of them very private (unless I post something as a comment on your blog!) But yeah...it doesn't take much for me to show my "appreciation" to them. It's whether or not they actually want that appreciation. O.o

  6. Their courage, commitment and service is so admirable. And that of their families.

    My husband was in the army for many years.

  7. So, so, SO cool, EJ. Your wife sounds like an amazing person! And your grandfather... I can't believe he was on the beach on D-day! EJ, not many people can say they know people who were there... that's crazy. I want to hear the stories! I love history---particularly war history. I find it fascinating... thanks for this.

  8. I appreciate all the servicemen and women every day of the year. I have many veterans in my family as well.

  9. Great post, EJ. Freedom isn't free. To your wife and all those you know who've served: thank you for your service.

  10. We appreciate what your wife and others are willing to do for freedom. People just don't appreciate the freedoms we have in this country.

    My father was a WWII Vet and Veteran's Day has always been special for me.

  11. My father is military, retired now. He served in Korea... He doesn't talk about the war much but I make sure he never has reason to doubt how much I appreciate his sacrifices and those who have served our country. And thank you to your wife. Great post, EJ.

  12. Please pass along my thanks to your wife.

  13. Such a lovely tribute. I get teary reading stuff like this.

  14. Great to be patriotic and I have an uncle buried at Arlington National Cemetery, but I also have relatives who were innocently standing on European soil at the wrong time. All war is bad. Very bad, but I'm glad we live in a free country and my hat's off to all those who had to fight.

  15. Beautiful post! So many have sacrificed so much for this country. They are like unsung heroes. The last military function I attended, a lot of people thanked my husband for his service, while we were walking to the event, in the elevator. I had a few women thank me. I was stunned, she said, she knew the lifestyle well. I have been alone, a lot. It isn't a dull life~ Thank you wife for me! I use to live on Elemendorf,AFB... Airforce bases are the best....ssssh, don't tell on me, lol!

  16. My thanks to your wife for her service.

    My grandparents were living in the Netherlands during the war. My parents were young children at the time, and by the end, were old enough to have memories of that time. If the war had gone on a few more months, if not for liberation, one of them, or both of them, would have starved, and I wouldn't be here. So I quite literally owe my life to these old men still around today, and to the young men lying in graves in Europe. That makes November 11th very personal for me.


“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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