Does your high school graduating class have a list of every member who is a military Veteran of our country?
On this 2017 Veterans Day weekend, there are lots of general well-wishes issued. But how many of us have ever given individual recognition even to all the Veterans with whom we attended school?
At my high school class reunion last year, many of us were horrified to realize that we had never made a list so we could thoroughly do this.
The resulting efforts of our class over the past year to create the full list have been most rewarding to all of us, especially in identifying and honoring some Veterans of war zones who had never been recognized publicly and by name anywhere. And this is important: You have to endeavor to find ALL the names because the ones you miss are likely to be of classmates who were the least noticed and elevated while in school. Don't they deserve to know that you know of their service?
Unfortunately, several of our classmate Veterans were deceased before we had the chance to honor them with the special float in our home town's 4th of July Parade last summer (two died even as we were creating the list).
A BELIEF IN NATIONAL COMMUNITY & THOSE WHO SERVE IT
NumbersUSA's 21 years of work toward immigration policies in the national interest is driven in part by a belief in national communities and their ability to watch out for the welfare of all members of that community, especially the weakest and most vulnerable.
As a part of our commitment to national community, I challenge you on this 2017 Veterans Day weekend to make sure nobody has gone unrecognized in your own class (including those who may not have graduated).
We don't have to agree with everything our elected leaders have done or allowed to be done militarily in our national community's name to recognize the importance of those who have answered our government's call to don the uniform and serve.
We also don't have to limit this type of honor to military service. That was stated eloquently by one of my classmates, George Latimer, who led the parade float effort and commented on the home town parade's theme this year, "Celebrating Our Hometown Heroes." He wrote in an email to our entire class:
It wasn't hard to find heroes among us. Many of you have given your lives to the service of others through your careers (education, medicine, public service) or by volunteering in significant ways, or by coping with terrible adversity with life-affirming courage, or handling difficult health issues with grace. But as this event was on the 4th of July, the idea of honoring the veterans in our class seemed the right choice for the float. . . . All of you veterans gave up two or more years of your life in service and some still continue to deal with the effects of that time . . . "
Every class will have its own story. My Class of 1966 of Marshfield, Missouri was among those across the country that for several years were enmeshed in the conflict in Southeast Asia. An internet search suggests around 12% of American men are wartime Veterans. More than 50% in my class are, with nearly half of them having served in the Vietnam war zone itself. In large letters, our 4th of July float bore the names of every one, finally honoring them individually and publicly along the leafy residential streets and circling the county court house.
I wish our class had not waited so long to fully account for the sacrifice and service. I hope your class won't wait any longer than it already has. (If your class already has acted, comment below on what you have done.)
ROY BECK is Founder & President of NumbersUSA
Updated: Sun, Nov 12th 2017 @ 7:04pm EST