I am a veteran of the United States Marines. It is a proud family tradition. Being a Tennessean just instills that heritage a little deeper. Tennessee is the Volunteer State. Tennessee is known as the “Volunteer State” because of the prominent role played by volunteer soldiers from Tennessee.
This year we need to look at what is happening to our veterans. Did you know that every day in our country 22 veterans commit suicide according to a report released by the Department of Veterans Affairs? We leave our veterans to fight their hardest battles alone.
As Veterans return to civilian life they are trying to pick up their lives. They are now older, their priorities have shifted, and they have seen things and done things that their some people cannot possibly imagine. We should seek more ways to incorporate veterans back into our world.
We should encourage that our veterans be honored not just on November 11th, but every day. Schools, including colleges and universities, should encourage all students and employees to participate in Veteran’s Day activities. Everyone can agree that we must do more for our veterans. For example, maybe you can attend a ceremony honoring a veteran or active member returning from overseas deployment, or assisting a veteran at a hospital, nursing home or shelter?
And we should allow our veterans who are higher education students, to participate in education endeavors of their choosing on this day. I regularly speak at schools and churches, and other events at every opportunity. This one method of offering real-life lessons students will never learn sitting in a classroom. A wide-ranging education should include as many valuable experiences as we can provide, including those learned from our veterans and those still on active duty, along with military spouses, siblings, children and parents of veterans.
Serving our country was a life-changing experience for me, as it was for most veterans. The leaders and heroes I served with helped shape me into the person I am today. I feel honored to have been a part of such a great tradition and grateful to others who have walked the same path.
It takes courage to risk life and limb for our state and country. The least we can do is to honor these heroes. That is the basis of any Veteran’s Day celebration. We must appreciate the men and women who wear the uniform, not only with words of appreciation, but also by our action. Our society survives by the service and martyrdom of these selfless souls. Tennessee, the Volunteer State, of all the states, should be the first to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
JC Bowman is the executive director of Professional Educators of Tennesse