3 Impactful Ways to Show Gratitude and Appreciation

Julie Jones
Veterans Day honors those who have served our country in both war and peace in one of the branches of the military, reserves, or National Guard. There are more than 30 million living U.S. Veterans today. Because of their commitment and sacrifice for our country, we enjoy the freedom that many throughout the world envy. So how can we show gratitude and appreciation not only on Veterans Day but each day as we benefit from the hard-fought freedom? Think about ways to honor them, invest in them, and experience and share in their commitment.

What could honor them mean?

Merriam Webster defines honor as “to regard or treat with admiration and respect.” When you pass a person in the military, do you thank them for their service and contribution and its impact on our country? Once while I was in an airport, another traveler complained that she didn’t feel that those in the military should get to board earlier than others. My response was, “Would you make the same commitment they do so that we can live free?” As she thought about it, she told me, “You’re right. Thanks for helping me see it differently.” These small courtesies take moments of our time, but I’m sure they make a difference for those who serve or have served. Many places sponsor letter-writing campaigns around Veterans Day to support our soldiers. Research says you will feel better when you extend gratitude and honor to another person. 

What could invest in them mean?

Investing in people means learning their stories, understanding their perspectives, and discovering what is important to them. An investment in others is creating a human connection, person to person. We live such busy lives, and it can be hard to slow down enough to hold the “backyard” conversations of days past. In addition to thanking veterans for their service, can you extend the conversation and learn more about what they do and how they do it? I was awestruck once while seated next to a retired fighter pilot who described the speed of the planes and how quickly he flew from Alaska to the Middle East. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. He talked about the challenges, especially for his family, who weren’t always sure where he was.  Think about how much we rely on instant messaging or calls to stay connected each day with our family. We can’t forget the military families as part of the veterans story; they also give so much as a family.

What could experience and share in their commitment mean?

To me, an experience is something that includes the act of doing something. The experience economy, a term first used in 1998 by B. Joseph Pines and James Gilmore, is an experience or event that is memorable or one that produces feelings. You walk away from the experience feeling differently than when you started. There are many military museums, memorials, and activities that offer immersive experiences in military history. Have you toured one recently?

One of my favorite experiences is sharing an honor flight boarding or landing with other travelers at airports across the country. The Honor Flight Network’s mission is to transport America’s veterans to Washington DC to visit those memorials dedicated to honoring those that have served and sacrificed for our country. Honor Flight is a national network of independent hubs that coordinate and offer an all-expense-paid trip for military veterans from World War 2 through Vietnam. Many people are moved to tears when they watch these ceremonies as veterans move through the airport terminals. I have experienced several Honor Flight ceremonies and encourage others to find a local hub and participate in one. I guarantee you will feel differently after the experience. The Honor Flight Network resumed operations in August of 2021; to learn more or donate to Honor Flight, click on the link provided.

Honor Flight Network - Home

"We can't all be heroes. Some of us have to stand on the curb and clap as they walk by."   
Will Rogers

Thank You, Veterans!

"This will remain the land of the free so long as it is the home of the brave."  
Elmer Davis

"Heroism doesn't always happen in a burst of glory. Sometimes, small triumphs and large hearts change the course of history."
Mary Roach

Freedom is never free.