What Makes Veterans Special? How Do We Honor Them?

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Lianna St. Francis’s grandfather, Robert Hilliker Photo credit: Val Hilliker

Lianna St. Francis, Contributor

What makes veterans special? They serve to protect us as a country, and they serve to protect their loved ones. By definition, a person who has once served in the U.S. Armed Forces is a veteran. However, veterans are more than just former soldiers, they are human beings that choose to stand up and defend our country; they choose to defend us as a nation no matter the risks that come with it. As veterans leave the Guard, they are still fighting. We need to honor and respect the veterans that are with us today.

My mother, Amanda Hilliker, served for five years in the Army National Guard from the age of 17, and my grandfather, Robert Hilliker, served in the army for ten-and-a-half years. He chose to defend our country because he felt as though that is what he had to do to fulfill his life.  My uncle, Adam Smith, served in the Army National Guard for 6 years.  Although my family members never went into war, they still fought for our country. They stood with their heads held high ready to defend us as a nation. 

I want to thank them, and any other veteran out there, who fought to keep our country strong and united. As we go forward with our lives, let us remember how committed they were to stand up for our country; let us remember the sacrifices these soldiers have given to stand before us today. 

In 2019, there were more than 18 million veterans in the U.S.  Let us thank those who fought for our country. Some may wonder why we honor our veterans. They fought for our freedom, many never adapted to regular life when they returned home as if they were still in war, they got lost in the system, they got lost in the importance of serving us as a nation.  The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates 300,000 veterans are homeless; many come home to their families gone and others never return home.  They deserve respect for how much they sacrificed to give us the freedom we have today.

On Nov. 11 we honor our veterans, and we honor those who have died while in the service. Veterans Day honors those, living and dead, who served our country, but especially gives thanks to those who are living and served honorably during war and peacetime. Veterans provide smiles and security; they give hope to the hopeless. The one thing all veterans have in common is that they served all of us and deserve our respect to honor them. 

Not all veterans are the same, but they are like you and me, men and women fighting for us and our country. So, let us thank all of those, living and dead, who fought for our country and gave us the freedom we have today. Buy a veteran a lunch or coffee, thank them for their service, donate to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  Find a way to go out of your way and thank veterans because they deserve love from our nation.