Dwane Lay is a Global HR process designer, certification junkie, writer, and speaker. He donated to #movemberthon and my blog is his for the day.
Dwane can be found noodling about at LeanHRBlog.com.
No, I didn’t serve. My father did. My closest friend still does. But I do not go out of my way to say something special to them on Veteran’s Day. All the ribbons, the free meal at Applebee’s, the “thanks for serving” I hear in the grocery store, the news/sports broadcasts interrupted with “but first, a heartfelt thanks” nonsense. I hate it. It irritates my sensibilities.
I dislike it for the same reason I dislike Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Memorial Day. Not because I’m against any of those people. Quite the opposite, really. But it bothers me that we need a “special day” to appreciate them.
I owe my parents, well, as much as anyone can owe their parents I suppose. Personality, philosophy, outlook on life, manners, respect for others, and my ruggedly handsome good looks. (Hey, five out of six ain’t bad.) They are an important part of my life. Yes, I do the obligatory work for the M&F days (over for dinner, drinks, flowers), but I also do those things throughout the year. I try to appreciate what they have done for me year round, not just on a couple of days that Hallmark has designated.
The sacrifice and suffering that our veterans have endured for us, or more specifically for a lot of people they never met, isn’t easy to understand for someone who hasn’t been there. So we have a day to say thanks, right? I mean, we don’t stop working, and don’t spend a lot of time going to parades or anything, but the calendar says it’s their day. So it must be.
What about the rest of the year, though? How often do you drive by the local VFW hall without stopping? Donations to Vietnam Veterans? How about something as simple as standing for the national anthem at a hockey game? Do you take the time to remind the knuckleheads in your area how they should act?
And let’s not forget the saccharine sentiments used to manipulate us by big business. I heard a spot on the radio talking about how tough it is for soldiers that can’t be home, and imploring us to buy phone cards to donate to a special program so they can call home for free. This was a being run by the phone company. The one who own the lines, the one who charges our soldiers to call home, and the one that sells the phone cards. Don’t you think if they really cared about taking care of the troops, maybe they could pick up the tab on those calls? Do they really need us to kick in to make the math work for them?
Look, it’s pretty simple. You don’t pet your dog once a year, you don’t hug your kids once a year, you don’t thank you partner once a year. If you appreciate someone, do it all year round. Don’t wait for the fine print on the calendar to tell you it’s time.