Giving Back on Veterans Day

Hundreds of businesses nationwide donate to veterans’ charities in the run-up to Veterans Day, according to Military Benefits, including Dunkin’ Donuts, Outback Steakhouse and Regal Cinemas. But year-round, proceeds from donations of used clothing and household goods made to help honor and benefit thousands of veterans throughout the country. Schedule a pickup today and remember to go to a local parade this weekend to honor those who have served.

Kids Can Help Celebrate Veterans Day

Veterans Day is Saturday, Nov. 11, and schoolchildren can honor veterans as they learn through a variety of activities, says Kids Thank a Veteran. Ask kids to write a letter to a veteran of Vietnam or another conflict, or invite a veteran to speak about their service at a school or event. Assemble a care package for a current service member, or plan a field trip to a VA nursing home or hospital, the site suggests; active troops and aging veterans alike will appreciate the consideration.

Observing the Anniversary of 9/11

On the 16th anniversary of 9/11, the Vietnam Veterans Association (VVA) encourages readers of its blog to remember the 2,996 people who perished in the devastating terrorist attacks against the United States that day, as well as the sacrifices made by more than 2.5 million U.S. personnel who have served in the global war on terror since. Show them and the rest of the nation’s veterans that you care today by offering a meaningful thank-you for their service, and donate some of your time, money or expertise to a veteran or veterans group.

Help Vets Enjoy the Parade

Make saluting those who have served part of your Independence Day routine by cheering on the local veterans who are marching in today’s parades and other observances. And when the color guard starts the parade today, adds the Magnolia School of Etiquette, show your respect for the flag by placing your hand over your heart or saluting as it passes. “Every veteran on that parade route is watching,” the blog says. VVA wishes everyone a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Remembering Veterans on Independence Day

Celebrating the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Fourth of July is marked by picnics, parades and above all, patriotism. And as with any holiday that demands the unfurling of the Stars & Stripes, it’s a great time to remember those who have served the nation.

The United States was borne of civil uprising. At first fighting what was a guerrilla war, rebels battled colonial rule and eventually formed the Continental Army. Seven bitter years of warfare later, a truce was declared, and six years after that, the founding fathers put forth a set of tenets for the country to live by.

Ever since, the nation has been in and out of conflict to guarantee life, liberty and pursuit of happiness on behalf of its own citizens and often, those of far-flung nations. Hundreds of thousands have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the United States, and many of those who returned home relatively intact still bear the less-visible scars of war.

If you see a veteran on the Fourth, stop and thank that person. Express your gratitude for defending the liberties that we so often take for granted. Hand him or her a hot dog, or offer up one of your lawn chairs for the fireworks display. Many still struggle to meet the daily obligations of civilian life, and will appreciate the kindness.

War is hell, and many of today’s surviving veterans suffer from physical disabilities and mental-health issues such as depression and PTSD. And the Vietnam veterans who are lucky enough to have their health and connections in the community are aging fast, and will appreciate recognition of the accomplishments made in their younger days.

As with any long weekend, you can take a day to clean out your closets and contact for a pickup. Donations are tax-deductible and help fund programs that do everything from organizing social outings for veterans to building homes and providing medical care.

They served proudly and unselfishly, without thought for themselves — only the United States, its flag and its freedoms. Thank, honor and salute veterans on the most festive day of the summer; they fought for everything we celebrate.