Veterans Day parades? Veterans Day school essays? Veterans Day ceremonies on the courthouse lawn? Star-spangled Veterans Day memes on social media? Platitude-enhanced newspaper editorials?
Sure, I'm familiar with all those expressions of patriotism and appreciation; but until I stumbled across a certain article the other day, I had been blissfully ignorant of the widespread availability of Veterans Day CARDS.
Whether you use a preprinted card, customize an online template or create a unique masterpiece totally from scratch, this is an outstanding way to let our nation's defenders know they are not forgotten.
Speaking of store-bought cards, it's unfortunate that the Hallmark Channel is always already wall-to-wall Christmas movies even before the jack-o'-lantern is consigned to the compost heap. It would be heartwarming to have a week-and-a-half of early-November movies in which Candace Cameron Bure and other Hallmark stars find romance on the obstacle course or save the town ammunition depot from being replaced with a mall. ("I don't know about atheists in foxholes, but there's a chaplain in this one! It's military wedding time!")
I'm slowly sorting through a stack of correspondence between my late father and his mother from when draftee Dad was in the U.S. Army. (I'm sure the newspaper clippings and neighborhood gossip from Granny Tyree helped take the sting out of the "Dear John" letter he received.) Such mail between flesh and blood is a good starting point, but don't limit yourself to kinfolk.
Friends and neighbors who did a tour of duty should certainly be thanked for their sacrifice, whether it was last year or two generations ago. Total strangers being treated in a faraway VA hospital could also use the ray of sunshine provided by the gesture of a Veterans Day card.
And let's not forget active servicepeople and their families. When my mother talks about some hectic endeavor, she tends to use the phrase "dragged from pillar to post." And surely no one gets dragged around like military families. A sincere card would mean so much among the bills and junk mail.
Even a "value-priced" professional card can be the high point of someone's day, but challenge yourself to personalize your cards. Not everyone is a polished wordsmith (as I demonstrate on a weekly basis), but perhaps venturing out of your comfort zone will give you a slightly better rapport with those who face or faced constant danger.
"Diligence," "selfless," "resilience" and "greater purpose" are some of the recurring words used in Veterans Day cards; but I'll bet you could express your pride and appreciation even better with a more conversational tone and more intimate anecdotes. Be bawdy, be mushy, be vulnerable, be REAL.
IF you're going to be taking the personal route, why not go whole hog with the "Christmas letter" approach? (You know the sort of insufferable letter I'm talking about: page after page of humble-brag recitations of dream vacations, promotions and genius children.) Crow about all the things that are going right in your life - and after each and every one of them, pause to acknowledge that your freedom and achievements wouldn't be possible without the sacrifices of the military.
COVID-19 has hobbled many of the traditional ways of celebrating Veterans Day (including hugging a veteran), but 2020 might be a good time to become part of the new tradition of sending Veterans Day cards to our heroes.
Copyright 2020 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page "Tyree's Tyrades." Danny's weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.