Six ways to honor a veteran (+ one shout-out) with Barbara Bell Photography

As a veteran myself, I wanted to share a little history about the founding of Veterans Day, as well as ways we can recognize our veterans today and every day.

It was a World War II veteran, Raymond Weeks from Birmingham, Alabama, who had the idea to expand Armistice (or Remembrance) Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who died in World War I. He led a delegation to General Dwight Eisenhower, who supported the idea of a nationally recognized Veterans Day. Weeks led the first national celebration two years later in 1947 and until his death in 1985.

It wasn’t until 1954 that President Dwight D. Eishenhower signed the bill into law establishing the holiday through Congress, and today almost 70 years later, we have the honor of celebrating those who have served.

If you are looking for a way to honor a veteran, here are six things you can do to get started.

1. Show up.

This is a general rule in our family: we show up for one another. It applies here to Veterans Day, as well. Is there an event honoring the veterans in your area? Maybe it’s a parade, a ceremony, or a dinner. Show up.

2. Donate.

The easiest and often most effective way to support veterans is to make a monetary donation to a certified non-profit. There are so many amazing organizations supporting and celebrating our veterans. Some of my favorites include:

3. Ask them about their service and listen to their stories.

The one thing I hear from our veterans, as well as their families, is that they don’t often hear from people. We all know someone who has served and Veterans Day is a great day to ask them about their service. Some questions you could ask include:

  • Why motivated you to join?
  • What did you do in the military?
  • How long did you serve?
  • Did you have a favorite moment or favorite people you met?
  • Why did you choose the branch that you did?

I had grown up hearing my dad talk a little bit about his service in the Army and about getting stationed in Ft. Lewis, Washington, but not a lot.  After he got diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I heard a lot more of those stories – as if he was going back to that time in his life. I learned about trips to the dessert in Arizona of all things. (I had never even known my dad had been to Arizona!)

4. Write.

If you know a veteran, write them a note saying thank you, recognizing their work in the military. If you don’t know a veteran, consider writing the note anyway and bringing it to your local VA hospital or nearby military base. These little reminders let people know we see them, and we are grateful for the work they do.

5. Call them.

My personal favorite, as this is how my day started today, with my mother phoning me to thank me for my service. (Aww, thanks, mamacita!) I did get a kiss from my sweet pea, and a thank you for service, as well. #Favorites

6. Share their history through their photographs!

I love seeing how everyone shares the photos of their veterans online! It truly makes me smile to read about your family members who have served.

+One Shout-out

Finally, a shout out to all those veterans, soldiers, sailors, marines, air crew, and their families that I have had the absolute privilege of photographing for these past 15 years with Operation: Love Reunited. It has been my greatest pleasure to photograph you in honor of your service.