What Veterans Day means…
November 11 is Veterans Day. This is the day we thank and honor all who have served in the United States Armed Forces whether in war or peace. We acknowledge their patriotism, love of country and selfless service in defense of our freedoms and this great nation. While Veterans Day is primarily a tribute to America’s living veterans, and should be observed more as a celebration of their service and contributions to our nation than as a somber remembrance, it is also important to remember the men and women who gave their lives for our country. As veterans, we remember these brave men and women that are missing from our midst, that you may know as prisoners of war, missing in action and killed in action; but we know as our fallen brothers and sisters.
Recently, I was taken by surprise when someone asked me what Veterans Day means to me as a veteran myself. No civilian has ever asked me that before.
From a broader perspective, the U.S. Army is one of the most culturally diverse environments one can ever experience, and the ability to come together and leverage those differences to accomplish seemingly impossible challenges in the name of our nation and freedoms is why we recognize our nation’s veterans.
On a personal level, being in the military is not something I did. It’s the period of my life that profoundly shaped who I am to this day. I chose to join the U.S. Army. The experiences of a lifetime that I was privileged to be a part of as result of that decision shaped my perspectives and values on leadership, duty, selfless service, integrity and personal courage. Those experiences taught me to look beyond myself to support a greater purpose, the importance of leadership regardless of what title you hold or role you play, and to push beyond my physical and mental limits to accomplish the mission and support my brothers and sisters.
As you can see, serving one’s country has a deep and personal effect, and each veteran has a differing perspective, so I reached out to a few veterans at Argonne to ask what this day means to them.
“Veterans Day is about recognizing our veterans and looking back on all that they have accomplished and how it has helped shape our nation,” said Dan Carlson (NWM), who served in the U.S. Navy. “For me personally it has become a time to reflect on my own experiences serving our country and, more importantly, to share the lessons that I learned with my kids.”
“I would like everyone to think about how fortunate we are to live in a nation that has an all-volunteer military,” Carlson said. “Many people join the armed forces for many different reasons, but one thing they all have in common is that they do it by choice. These men and women choose to put their lives on the line to protect and defend our freedoms and individual rights. Other nations are not so fortunate to have the kind of dedication and courage that you see in our military today, and it is due in large part to this aspect of choice.”
For Diana Morgan (MSD), who served in the U.S. Air Force, Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the service of her fellow veterans and the roots of that service. “It’s a day for me to remember all the men and women who served our country and gave their life so that I can know the meaning of the word freedom. It’s a day I can think back and be proud of the small part I played in that mission,” she said.
“The founding fathers wanted us to be able to think and act freely. The military was born to protect that ideal,” Morgan said. “We veterans volunteered our time to serve and protect, and most of us feel quite passionately about that.”
Morgan is working to create a Veteran’s Group at Argonne. The goal is not only to bring veterans together socially, but to engage in community service as well as helping veterans connect to resources and information. If you are interested in participating in this group, please contact Morgan at ext. 2-3858.
On this Veterans Day I’d like to ask all veterans at Argonne: What does your service mean to you? If you’d like to share your thoughts, please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would like to compile and share them with the lab community to help foster a better understanding of the veterans’ experiences.
I encourage everyone to not only thank the veterans you know, but also to ask them this question. The conversation might surprise and enlighten both of you.