The meaning behind Veterans Day

Nathan Cheney, sophomore in mechanical engineering, previously United States Air Force, enjoys attending Veteran's Day sponsored events either around Manhattan or other various locations. (Nathan Jones | The Collegian)

Each year, November 11 is dedicated as Veterans Day in celebration and recognition of the brave soldiers who have served in the U.S. armed forces in times of peace and war.

Wednesday, the Manhattan and K-State communities have the opportunity to show their respect and gratitude to these heroic individuals for the courage they demonstrated in the defense of our country. For some local veterans and their families, the day holds special significance.

“It’s to honor those who serve and to give us pause to remember those who didn’t return from the wars we fought,” said Bradford Seabourn, research chemist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and former technical sergeant for the U.S. Air Force. “My father and uncles were in the military in one form or another; it’s another way to think about them and their service they gave to the military.”

Sally Meyer, instructor of family studies and human services and spouse of retired Air Force member Steve Meyer – who worked in Petroleum Oil and Lubricants – said the day is important to her husband.

“There are a lot more people who made more sacrifices,” Sally Meyer said. “There’s a lot of people who did a lot more than he did.”

Jamie Jones, former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army and senior in early childhood education, also said she feels sacrifices were made. For her, this includes time away from family and loved ones.

“During my time, we spent a lot of time away from our families preparing for and getting ready for actual warlike situations, rather than sitting at home,” Jones said. “I felt for the people who had families.”

The Meyers, Jones and Seabourn all celebrate the holiday differently. For Seabourn, the parades are an enjoyable part of the day.

“I do the parades,” Seabourn said. “I enjoy going to see those. I don’t do any one thing special. But certainly since 9/11 and thinking about all those men and women who have served our country, I’ve been so appreciative of them.”

Meyer said she and her family make it a day of celebration.

“We hang our flag,” Meyer said. “We go to the parade because we usually have a grandchild in it. And if it’s warm, (Steve) goes fishing; if it’s in season, he goes hunting. If he has to work on the house, he does that because I have to go to work. We go to the Wareham (Opera House) and listen to the kids sing and to the speakers as well.”

Jones said she and her military-veteran husband and their children celebrate the day by spending time together.

“We spend that time with our children and talk about our experiences,” Jones said. “We tell them about our military experiences. We cook and share a meal together; we celebrate being a family together.”

All three said they believe the day should receive more attention. Many people have to go to work or school because only federal employees are guaranteed to have the day off.

“I don’t think that all businesses and establishments recognize the day,” Jones said. “In fact, I had to have a discussion with my husband about whether I would attend class that day or miss it. It would be worthwhile to make observation of that.”

Jones said that the recognition of the holiday is deserved based on the service those in the military provided.

“We protect our country, serve our country,” Jones said. “We are selfless in our service. We have to give not only in combat but out of combat too. I think Veterans Day should be observed more. I think Veterans Day should be a big holiday, much bigger than the Superbowl. Memorial Day should be equivalent to it; those soldiers didn’t get to come back home. Those two days should be the biggest days we celebrate in this country.”

Seabourn said he wants Veterans Day to be a day of remembrance for all.

“I would say more people should contemplate Veterans day,” Seabourn said. “In most places, we have a Veterans Day parade. There is remembrance, but I wish maybe some people would take time from their work for some kind of observance instead of just not doing anything.”

Meyer said she thinks the day would be better served as a public holiday.

“It would be the perfect thing if it could be not just a federal holiday, but a holiday for everyone,” she said. “People still go to school and others go to work.”

Despite these concerns, the day continues to serve as a reminder of the sacrifices each veteran made for this country and its people. Seabourn said he tries to recognize this sacrifice each day.

“Because I get to live right by Fort Riley, I try to make Veterans Day every day,” Seabourn said. “When I see a veteran at the store or other places, I try to make a point of thanking them for their service. I literally thank them for their service. Stop them and shake their hand.”