The month of December brings thoughts of gift giving and receiving, family gatherings and holiday parties.
In Hawaii, it also brings a day of national remembrance held on December 7. This year, we observed the 75th Anniversary National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Commemoration—a lengthy title with an equally large number of unprecedented events held during this once-in-a-lifetime event. From December 1-11, movies on the beach, band performances, activities, special events, banquets, concerts and much more took place to remember the actions of that day, and to say a heartfelt "thank you" to our veterans of the armed forces whose lives changed forever on December 7 in 1941.
What stood out most to me took place during the actual December 7 ceremony. I can't recall the exact words, but the message was one of deep gratitude for our veterans who have served and continue to serve, but also one of encouragement for our younger generation to step up to keep America the great country that it is…to protect our citizens and our way of life from the terror of outside forces.
Even with all the fanfare of this momentous occasion, at the real heart of it all, are the reminders to remember and honor all of the men and women—and may I add, our four-legged companions as well—who have given their lives in the fight for our country.
On any given day, someone in our military forces assigned to a foreign land faces obstacles, loss, depression, suicidal thoughts. There are too, the joys of receiving a care package from home, being able to speak face-to-face with loved ones via a computer screen, getting to enjoy a show courtesy of the USO…
We may not personally know someone who has been deployed, but what can we do to let them know we’re thinking about them? Just a few ideas: collect items for a care package, write thank you cards, send phone cards, send daily amenities/toiletries for men and women.
We can also consider sending care packages to wounded warriors, veterans, caregivers, home front families as well as to organizations that support military working dogs.
And it never hurts to say, “Thank you for your service” when you see someone in military uniform.
Rather than receive, let’s give kind words, compassionate thoughts and take positive action for our military, as well as anyone we see struggling at home.
This is the true spirit of the holidays that we can carry throughout the year.