Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day, 2011

We love our holidays!  There's a total of ten days this year when the United States Post Office is closed and will not deliver mail.  Additionally, there are 34 days this year when one state or another has declared a "holiday" giving government employees the day off to celebrate and relax. 

Today is Memorial Day;  a Federal holiday observed in all states - no mail.  It's the day when we remember and honor those who gave their lives in service to us and the freedoms we relish.  There will be parades.  There will be fireworks displays.  There will be picnics and dances. 

But some of us will visit the graves of the fallen.  National cemeteries will be a sea of white gravestones and US Flags.  Some will have regimented military programs honoring those who have died.  The survivors will be there.  And, many of those attending will be stoic and solemn in their memories.  Some, especially for those mourning recently deceased, will be overcome and inconsolable with grief.  Our hearts go out to them with sorrow but also with gratitude.  We owe them so much, but there's little we can do.

Or is there.  Millions of soldiers have come home - we call them Veterans.  They are the buddies and life-long friends of those whose graves we visit.  They may not have given the "supreme sacrifice" but they've given just as much.  Some have been changed forever.  They are no longer the same men and women who left for the battlefield.  And coming home, after witnessing unimaginable things, they are still sacrificing.  Some of these brave men and women are now homeless in the homeland they fought to protect. 

The National Alliance to End Homelessness states that on any given night, there are over 76,000 men and women Veterans who are homeless. An interactive map (from 2008)  is available on the NAEH website so that you can see what this issue looks like in your state. 

We hope your Memorial Day activities are blessed with great weather!  We know that all those who served delight in these celebrations!  We encourage you to remember those who have died as well as those who walk among us.  We encourage you to say "thanks" to all Veterans when you meet them today and every day. And, if so moved, please consider donating to an organization serving those who served and now find themselves homeless.

*** Some of these homeless Veterans have babies and families.  Are you registered to vote?  Have you voted?  One of the three nonprofits featured on this blog will win $1,000 in about 10 days.  Maybe your vote can help one of our homeless veterans!

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