Outdoors: Veterans Day

Steve Gilliland
Special to the Globe

I come from a family where many have served in the military in one way, shape or form. My dad was an infantryman in the Army during WW II and served in Italy for a time.

His older brother served as Flight Engineer on a B-24, flying 13 missions over Germany during WWII. I was a Field Artillery Meteorologist, collecting atmospheric data for the artillery for 20 years in the Army National Guard, and was in Bosnia for 6 months.

My wife Joyce spent 8 years in the Air National Guard as a photographer and as a plane cargo loader. Three of her uncles, all from Mennonite families, served in the army and navy during WWII and the Korean Conflict. Two of my cousins were in the Air Force, one of my nephews was a marine and another nephew is currently in the navy. When asked by her siblings, (all who are also Conscientious Objectors,) why she joined the military, my wife Joyce replied “Cause daddy never told me not to.”

I say all this not to brag, but to say that we are a family who believes in and supports maintaining a strong military in the United States.

The person who suggested I write this column, told me of an office conversation discussing whether or not to do anything special this year for Veterans Day in their paper. One coworker replied “Yes, absolutely. Patriotism has to be taught.”

That got me thinking about ways we can teach our kids and new citizens to be proud of our country and of our military, both current members and veterans.

First of all, by example, teach your kids respect for our flag, for the pledge of allegiance to our flag and for our National Anthem. When reciting the pledge of allegiance, honoring our flag as it is displayed or paraded past you or when singing the Star-Spangled Banner, stand, come to attention and face the flag with your right hand over your heart.

Now, some will say the flag is only a piece of cloth, the pledge of allegiance only something we recite and the national anthem only a song. While those statements are true, these things are symbols of our freedom and of our country.

Teaching our youth respect for these things will help teach them appreciation for God’s allowing us to live in a free country like the United States, appreciation for the soldiers that currently serve, soldiers that have served in the past and soldiers that have died protecting that freedom.

Most places you go, be it Walmart, the mall, a fast-food restaurant or some large event, you will see men and women wearing a hat or another item of clothing

giving the appearance that they are military veterans. Ask those people if they are veterans, and if so, offer your hand and thank them for their service, and urge your kids to do the same.

This is also a great gesture toward law enforcement personnel, firefighters and all manner of first responders, for they, like soldiers are the ones who run toward dangerous situations, allowing the rest of us run to safety.

I agree with the assessment that “Patriotism has to be taught,” and we as parents and grandparents must be the teachers.

Be creative with other ways to honor our veterans this Veteran’s Day. Offer to pay for their Big Mac and fries, their morning coffee at Scooters or at the local café, let them go ahead of you in line at Dillons, etc.

Also, take your kids and grandkids to church and be the example of wholeheartedly thanking God for these freedoms we have. As Lee Greenwood so eloquently sang, “God Bless the USA.”

Steve can be contacted by email at stevenrgilliland@gmail.com