I am a 21 year old student at the University of Massachusetts Boston. With Veterans Day approaching, I begin to reflect on the significance of the holiday. Growing up, Veterans Day was just another break in my school schedule when I could spend time with friends. To be perfectly honest, I often confused the holiday with Labor Day and Columbus Day, the other two holidays on my fall calendar.
As the years passed, and the War on Terror became more poignant to the American people, my perspective on Veterans Day did not change much. It was still just another day off. I was either twelve years old and playing football at the park, or eighteen and looking for another party with friends.
It was not until four of my friends began serving our country overseas, and my social group began to shrink, that I started to realize just how important this day was for me. I now understand the worry and fear that comes from having a friend or loved one deployed during a time of war. For most of my life, I was like the majority of civilians who do not appreciate Veterans Day, due to lack of concern or simple ignorance.
I say this because it took me close to twenty years to learn the importance this holiday. I am not proud that I needed to look beyond my own selfishness to realize that maybe there was more to Veterans Day than just another night to party It took a long time, but I finally stopped thinking only about how much less fun it was without my military friends, and started thinking about Veterans Day’s real meaning.
What is most upsetting is that my ignorance was never contested. For that reason, I believe the ignorance is widespread. Aside from veterans’ families, I believe that the general public only worries about their own lives on a day when they should appreciate those who fight to protect them.
Although I am responsible for my own actions and can only hold myself accountable, I do believe that at one point in my younger years I should have faced an intervention to teach me. My personal experiences speak to the general apathy of American society.
I am proud to say that I have broken through the barriers of ignorance on my own. Instead of worrying about my own agenda and my selfish wants on Veterans Day, I reflect on all that I am grateful for. It is because of my friends, who put their own personal lives aside to fight for our freedoms, that I appreciate Veterans Day. They have dedicated their lives to the freedom of our country so that the rest of us can pursue our own aspirations.
Whether you know a veteran or not, everyone should dedicate their holiday to enlightening the young on the significance of Veterans Day.