Acts Of Kindness To Veterans

I Made A Veteran Cry At The Grocery Store By Doing One Simple Thing

I promise, he wasn't crying from a negative comment or sour attitude.

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I have always had a very special place in my heart for Veterans.

I grew up with an ex-marine father who I would always see walk up to people, extend his hand and say "thank you for your service." As I grew older, I began to realize the importance of that simple gesture, especially in the society that we all live in today.

The people risked their lives for our country and for our freedom. If you think about it, there are very few people in this world that would genuinely give their own life for you. Jesus, your parents, maybe a sibling or a best friend, but did you ever stop to think about your neighbor down the street who risked it all for you?

I really got involved with Veteran affairs support during my sophomore year in high school. They had a Veterans Day committee — we hosted a HUGE brunch and assembly to simply say thank you. Then the next year I moved schools... and I was devastated to learn that my new school had nothing of the sorts going on to thank or honor veterans.

So me, being the go-getter that I am decided to create my own committee through student government.

Thankfully, my fellow student government members, PTO, and friends were willing to help me pull off a small scale brunch. It was nothing compared to what my old school was able to accomplish, but it was a start. We also decided to extend the invitation to first responders (firefighters, cops, EMTs) in our community.

While it was a small turn out, I had to remind myself that it was the first year and the people who were able to come, now feel appreciated and thanked for their amazing dedication.

The summer between junior and senior year of high school, I spent my mornings writing thank you cards for a small organization called Nothing But Love Notes. I saw a woman named Natalie on the television one morning and my mom said to me, "this is perfect, you should find out how you can help" as I am a stationery hoarder and pen enthusiast. Mix it with a little thank you to Veterans and First Responders and BAM. Basically what Natalie does is simply write a thank you card and if she sees a Veteran out and about, she hands them a card. She leaves notes on cop cars, even gets yelled at by people who think she is leaving some junk mail on their windshield. It is something so beyond simple that makes such a large impact on somebodies day or even life. I was thankful to be able to have Natalie come speak at our brunch the following year. I also still do my best to send her cards when I have time to sit down and write. Shoutout to my sorority sisters who have also helped me in the past to write thank you cards.

Natalie has inspired me to keep cars with me in my purse or in my car. Most of the time I get a weird look when I am staring at someone trying to read their hat and see if it says "WW II Vet" and then chase them down the aisle at the grocery store, but the smile I get from them makes it all worth it. I have made an old man cry once... yes, it does sound awful but, they were happy tears. His wife grabbed my hands and just couldn't say thank you enough.

I encourage everyone that happens to stumble across this article to write some cards and send them to Natalie, or even just keep them with you. You don't have to say much — just a simple:

"I wanted to say thank you for your service" with a handshake and a card could really impact society for the better.

Don't know what to write on the card? Here is a simple example:

"Dear Veteran,

I wanted to personally thank you for all you've done for our country.

I know that we don't know each other, but your bravery is so much more appreciated than you may ever know.

Blessings always,

Love Gracie."

It's the gesture that matters, not the length of the card or specific wording.

If you are a veteran or first responder and reading this at the moment, THANK YOU for all that you have or are doing for both this country and for me.

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9 Facts Of Life When You Call A Veteran Mom Or Dad

The military is a part of your parent's identity, and it is consequently a part of yours as their kid, even if you haven't realized it yet.

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If your parent is a veteran, odds are the military runs through their veins. You don't remember when you learned what the military was or how it worked. All you know is that you did learn and at a very young age at that. During your time growing up, your parent has probably received multiple military-themed gifts and has told you about the good ole military days more than a few times.

So, if your parent is a veteran, here are nine facts of your life.

1. Curse words are a frequent form of expression

Bad words are beautiful gifts to the languages. Odds are your parent not only knows all the curse words in the English language but probably some others in a foreign language. My dad knows quite a few in German.

2. Guns are not inherently "bad"

While I cannot speak for everyone's parents' political beliefs, odds are guns are not hated in a military household, considering the military relies on them a lot of the times.

3. Pretty much ALL gifts you get for them are military-themed

We have gotten my father a LEGO tank model, many other tanks models, military T-shirts, veteran-made coffee, glasses with bullets stuck in the sides, and many more items that I could list off if I so wished.

4. There are at least 20 t-shirts with the American flag on it in your household

This goes along with the gift thing. A fair majority of your parent's wardrobe is made up of military-related clothing, and there is no denying it. USA loud and proud.

5. Alcohol and coffee = the two main forms of sustenance

Now that I think about it, I have never met a veteran that doesn't enjoy at least one of these things immensely. Like... ever.

6. You'll learn weird phrases or sayings that you have never heard any one else's parents say

My father always says, "Well, that's a dead soldier!" after a bottle is emptied in my house. According to Google, this phrase derives from WWI times, in which people referred to empty bottles as "dead soldiers" or "dead marines" because the bottle has served its duty. Also, my dad has explained to me many times that the f-word is actually an acronym referring to early prostitutes.

So, that's fun.

7. You'll hear the same military stories a THOUSAND times

For example, my dad once lived in a barracks that all the soldiers claimed was haunted. They would hear boots going up and down the halls late at night while everyone was in bed, or so the story goes over and over and over...

8. And when you try to INTERRUPT the military stories, they just take more time to tell it

OMG I KNOW THAT IT WAS HAUNTED. PLEASE JUST LET ME STARE INTO THE FRIDGE MINDLESSLY

9. You are proud to call them your parent

They served for their country. Now, they serve you as your parent and a great parent at that.

I love you, Dad!

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8 Songs To Remind You What Memorial Day Is About

While it is a day to celebrate our freedom, we must remember all of those who gave their lives for the freedoms we often take for granted.

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Many people fail to realize the true importance and the difference between Veteran's Day and Memorial Day. While both are days to celebrate the freedoms our soldiers have earned for us, Memorial Day is about honoring those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to give us the many privileges we have today. Here are a few songs to honor our fallen soldiers this Memorial Day.

'American Soldier' by Toby Keith, 2003

"I don't wanna die for you/ But if dying's asked of me/ I will bear that cross with honor/ 'Cause freedom don't come free"

This song will always be my go-to song when it comes to military songs. Toby Keith perfectly captures the feelings of every soldier when they go off to war- leaving behind their families and facing the dangers head on knowing full well that they may not come home. Countless soldiers have and will continue to give their lives protecting our country and this song is a reminder of everything soldiers sacrifice in their line of duty.

'Some Gave All' by Billy Ray Cyrus, 1992

"Some stood through for the red, white, and blue/ And some had to fall"

Billy Ray Cyrus perfectly put into words the sacrifices made by soldiers who go to war to protect our country. Everybody gives some portion of themselves in battle and no soldier comes back from overseas the same. However, there are many forgotten soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice to defend our nation and everything it stands for and we must remember that. This ballad gives a strong message that should be echoing around the country this Memorial Day.

'If You're Reading This' by Tim McGraw, 2007

"I'm layin down my gun/ Hanging up my boots/ Tell dad I don't regret that I followed in his shoes"

Never will I not cry when I listen to this song. Written in the point of view of a fallen soldier, Tim McGraw's ballad shows just everything a soldier says goodbye to when he lays down his life. The lyrics talk to the soldiers parents, telling them not to be sad and that his soul is home, as well as his wife and unborn daughter to whom he wishes the best for. Always one of the songs that hits close to home.

'Arlington' by Trace Adkins, 2005

"And every time I hear twenty-one guns/ I know they brought another hero home to us"

Yet another tearjerker. This song centers around a soldier who lost his life in battle and was buried in Arlington, the national military cemetery, where the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located. The soldier reminiscences on the way his parents cried presented with his flag, and the way he and his dad searched for his grandfather's grave here when they were kids. His father told him that this was the sacrifice of freedom, and the subject of the song is proud that he is one of the "chosen ones."

'Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue' by Toby Keith, 2002

"My daddy served in the Army/ Where he lost his right eye/ But he flew a flag out in our yard/ 'Till the day that he died"

I adore this song because not only does it honor our fallen soldiers, but it's the upbeat chorus and prideful lyrics could instill a sense of patriotism in even the most unpatriotic. It talks about how the USA will never fail to retaliate when someone threatens our peace and security, as we've done countless times.

In the words of Toby Keith, "we'll put a boot in your ass/ it's the American way."

'Travelin' Soldier' by Dixie Chicks, 2003

"Don't worry but I won't be able to write for a while"

This song sits really close to home for me because it talks about a young high school girl who falls in love with a newly enlisted soldier, and how their love continues to grow even when he's overseas. Everybody tells her that she's too young to be waiting around for a soldier but she holds on hope anyways, even when his letters stop coming. In the bridge of the song, we find out that the soldier dies in the war in Vietnam and her waiting for her soldier to return takes on a much more sad meaning,

'I Drive Your Truck' by Lee Brice, 2012

"Hey, man I'm trying to be tough/ And momma asked me this morning if I'd been by your grave/ But that flag and stone ain't where I feel you anyway"

A newer song yet still a gem, Lee Brice tells how he copes with the loss of his brother. He talks about driving his brother's truck to feel close to him again, using this source of comfort to drown the pain of his loss. He leaves his brother's things in the truck, like his dog tags, cowboy boots, and Go Army shirt, keeping the relics of his brother close after saying goodbye in his own way.

'Just A Dream' by Carrie Underwood, 

"And the guns rang one last shot/ And it felt like a bullet in her heart"

Another song about a dead lover, Carrie Underwood focuses on the fear of lovers and spouses of military personnel feel whenever their loved one is away at war. She talks about a girl, fresh into womanhood preparing to marry her lover before finding out that he died in the war. Her wedding then turns into a funeral as "reality" hits her but then comforts herself by saying the entire scenario is a dream. However, Underwood was able to capture the fear of every military spouse that they could lose their loved one at any given moment.

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