For most of us, November 11th rolls around every year like any other day. We go about our daily lives, pause at 11:00 AM for a moment of silence, and continue on with our days as usual. We may share a heart-felt social media update, or tear up at a feature news story of a veteran and their family. But for many, the magnitude of Remembrance Day is lost. This is partially because there are so few ways for us to connect to the wars of the past. Aside from television and movies, or perusing through old photo albums, our generation has very little first-hand relations with the veterans of World War I and II. Remembrance Day is about more than just red poppies and notices about coffee and rolls from the local Legion hall. We appreciate the sacrifice our veterans have made for us and our country, and the luxuries these sacrifices have afforded us. This year, take a moment to reflect upon what Remembrance Day can teach us about gratitude all year long.
The origin of the holiday comes from the end of World War I. 101 years ago, the armies ceased fighting on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, giving us our current Remembrance Day date. Between the two World Wars, our country lost over 100,000 soldiers who were fighting for our freedom. Thousands more came home with internal wounds deeper than we can imagine. The sacrifices made by these men and women, as well as their families, should not go unnoticed. There is more of a push to recognize the efforts and sacrifices made by our soldiers and vets, as there should be. We owe much of our current reality to those who risked everything to secure it for us. Remembrance Day reminds us to look around at all we are grateful for and extend that gratitude to those who protected it.
In a world of comparisons and a “Keeping Up with the Joneses” mentality, we often take for granted all that we have and are able to do. There are no limitations on what we are allowed to believe, pursue, and achieve. Each decade brings with it social change that our relatives and ancestors could only dream of. And we get to live it! The freedoms we have allow us to truly embrace our passions and dreams,and follow our hearts, and challenge ourselves like never before. Extend your gratitude this year to all you have and all you can do; others in the world would give anything to live the way you are.
Peace can look different to each one of us. There is the typical idea of peace, where there is no fighting or war for our country.Howeverwithin our own lives peace takes on a distinctive meaning. For some people, peace is taking a shower with no interruptions from children. For some, peace is embracing the outdoors on a challenging run. For others, peace is being able to walk out the front door of their home without fear. We are fortunate to be able to find our own version of peace and embrace it wholeheartedly. Every once in awhile, this peace seems hard to find. You may have had a hectic day at work, you may be running late to every appointment you have scheduled, or you may not have had a second of silence or alone time inyourweek. However, we have all experienced the unexpectedness of a peaceful moment. When these moments hit, they are a gentle reminder to give thanks for both the chaos of a happy life and the peace that recharges us.
As Remembrance Day approaches, take the time to center yourself and pay your respects to the veterans we celebrate. Although our gratitude may seem miniscule compared to what our soldiers sacrifice, gratitude is what we can give them. Gratefulness extends beyond the concept of “Thank you for your service.” Be grateful for their service, yes. But be grateful for everything their service did and does for us. Embrace the notion that everything we are able to seek stems from someone else fighting for that right. This year as you pass by a Legion member with poppies, stop and give a donation. Wear the red poppy with pride. Ask a veteran about their experience, and listen with intent. Their stories, and the physical and mental scars they carry, are our connections to a world we have never experienced. And thankfully, one we may never have to.
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The 3rd Sunday of June is a day to pay tribute to all our fathers and father figures. A time to recognize the strength in diversity, and an opportunity to celebrate our own father’s impact, sacrifices, and contributions. Happy Father’s Day to all!