By Mike Parks, RADM, U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.), CEO, American Red Cross Northern Ohio Region
November 9, 2022 – Family and Friends of the Red Cross of Northern Ohio – greetings as we prepare this week to honor our nation’s Veterans on Friday, November 11th. We do so in commemoration of World War I’s Armistice which was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Today there are approximately 18.5 million living Veterans in the United States. Of the 16 plus million people who served in World War II—“America’s Greatest Generation”—only 167,284 (just over 1%) are alive today and we’re losing 180 WWII Veterans every single day. The origins of the American Red Cross are rooted in the wartime experiences of our beloved founder Clara Barton during our nation’s horrific Civil War. The history of the American Red Cross is replete with heart-warming stories of the American Red Cross serving those Veterans who have served our grateful nation ever since.
It is customary on Veterans Day (there is no apostrophe) to express our thanks and appreciation to Veterans we know or that we come across on that day. A simple “Thank you for your service.” is wholly appropriate. Although there is some debate on this (many Veterans don’t like to be thanked because they feel they were just doing their duty), it is my personal opinion that we should not limit our expression of gratitude for Veterans to one day a year. Veterans past and present served and continue to serve 365 days a year (and 366 every fourth year!) so it’s fitting to thank them each and every day for their selfless service and sacrifice. If you’re a Veteran reading this—THANK YOU for your selfless service and sacrifice!!!
Speaking of sacrifice—we also celebrate Military Family Appreciation Month in November. Frequent moves, missed holidays, birthdays and anniversaries, and periods of long separation are all par-for-the-course for military families. I feel I can state with a high degree of certainty that the love, encouragement, sacrifice, support and prayers provided by military families has been, and continues to be, critical to the success and welfare of our entire Veteran community.
It’s appropriate we recognize our Veterans and their families in the month of November—the same month we celebrate Thanksgiving—a holiday focused on counting our blessings and expressing our genuine gratitude for our rich bounty. Coming full circle, one of our greatest blessings is the freedom we each experience here in America. This freedom would in no way be possible without the sacrifice of all those Veterans we honor this Friday!
Thanks again to each and every one of you for your support of Veterans and the American Red Cross of Northern Ohio! Best regards…Mike