“The eleventh month on the eleventh day at the eleventh hour . . . . ” These words echo in my mind with my mother’s voice. While my mother did not serve in the military or practice nursing, she was an educator who taught about thinking of others and the role of showing gratitude. Veterans Day is an excellent time to think of others, particularly the nurses who made the decision to serve in the military. Historically, Veterans Day was known as Armistice Day to recognize the end of World War I, and that eleventh hour quote signifies when the armistice took effect.
Veteran nurses may have a host of emotions on Veterans Day. While there is pride and honor in being a veteran, nurses and other veterans also experience humility. Nurses may carry painful memories and not wish to remember some aspects of their military service. The public means well when extending gratitude and support. Those gestures are appreciated. However, not all veterans want to jump into long lines for free meals or desire to shop for advertised discounts. Veterans Day has an element of being commercialized—this is not the spirit of this day. Instead, it is “a celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.” 1
The minute of silence observed on Veteran’s Day is meant to remember the sacrifice of others. Consider following that silence with thanksgiving for the blessings in your life, and then reach out to the veterans you know. Send a text, make a phone call, or write a note to let him or her know that you’re thinking of them and have prayed for them.
~Esther Morales, BSN, RN, served 20 years in the military and currently is a traveling nurse.
1 U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. History of Veterans Day.
JCN article: After the Trenches: Spiritual Care of Veterans
JCN article: Nurses Go to War: A Grandmother's Tour of Duty