Three days are not enough

By Linda Porterfield, Charlotte Dems writer

America formally honors our veterans with two national holidays during the year: Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day. In recognition of Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day, Charlotte County Democrats will host a third, local day of opportunity to pay tribute to fallen and returning veterans who served our country. On Sunday, September 27th from 2 to 3 PM people may gather at the Vietnam War Memorial within Laishley Park at 200 Harbor Walk Drive in Punta Gorda, FL 33950.  Please click here to learn more about this event.

Veterans inspire much pride in Charlotte County. Statewide, veterans account for nine percent of Florida’s population.  According to the latest available census data, 22,262 veterans reside in Charlotte County alone.  Approximately 9,000 served in Vietnam, 4,056 in Korea, and 1,804 in World War ll.  Fortunately, Charlotte County and Florida, voted the second-best national residential location for veterans, is rich with veterans’ services and resources.

And that’s a very good thing.  Veterans may return from service with a host of issues challenging their assimilation back into society.  Barriers to successful job searches, permanent and long-term disabilities, wartime emotional scars affecting mental health, and turbulence reacclimating to family life or the absence of one are not uncommon. Some, after arduously surmounting these and other obstacles, even re-enlist for another tour of duty.  How do you emulate that in terms of courage and honor?

And some, unfortunately, after enduring unspeakable hardships or experiences in POW camps, never came home.

America has incurred a debt to veterans that can never be repaid.  We must respect this debt, not only in terms of what they sacrificed, but also in terms of lost opportunities that may never come again. Educational advancement, climbing the corporate ladder, raising families, becoming grandparents, dream vacations, caring for parents during their final years, and just being there for a final goodbye are opportunities many veterans missed.

How can we possibly express gratitude on this scale with a mere “Thank you for your service?”

The unfortunate recent remarks from our President characterizing veterans as “suckers “and “losers” is shameful and a rebuke of all veterans and all who currently serve in our military.  We stand behind the remarks of one of our own Charlotte County returning heroes, Joe Comeaux, a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel of 25 years, who offered a very personal response to President Trump’s name-calling in this video.  Our Commander-in-Chief can learn much from Joe’s remarks about respect, honor, and passion for our country, which the President continuously fails to grasp.

Our veterans have much to teach us about respect and how much it means to our veterans. We can learn from Justine Constantine, a marine veteran, interviewed in online magazine:

“Too often we think holding a parade or shaking a veteran’s hand is the extent of our duty to them. But if we really want to honor veterans, we should do something more substantive. What you do for a veteran is often more important than what you say.”

This veteran offers a few more substantive opportunities to express gratitude, including sending a check to veterans’ organizations; donating your frequent flyer miles; offering your expertise in anything; bringing in a veteran speaker; hiring a veteran, military spouse, or caregiver; donating your time; earmarking donations to favorite organizations; volunteering; and, using a veteran-owned business.

Please join us this Sunday for a remarkable event and tribute to all who have served our country.

Take this day with you throughout the year and offer substantive assistance, along with a Thank You, to veterans you meet in the course of your day.  Even with this Sunday, it seems that three days are just not enough.

Image Credits: Linda Porterfield