DEAR READERS: Happy Memorial Day! Today represents the unofficial launch of the summer season for families across the country. More, it is a moment for all of us to remember those who have served in the armed forces on behalf of our great nation.
This year, I am thinking about the many ways that people say thank you to members of the armed forces. For decades, popular entertainers have gone overseas, often in harm's way, to bring cheer to those military personnel who were deployed in various parts of the world. I recall back as far as comedian Bob Hope's days and how committed he was to visiting the troops and making them laugh, if only for a few minutes.
So many of us are connected directly to the military, even though we have not had the requirement of service like many other nations, including England and Israel. My father, the Honorable Harry A. Cole, was an officer in the United States Army in World War II. My late uncle, Wendell G. Freeland, was a Tuskegee Airman. My husband's nephew, Terrence Chin, currently serves in the Army. And the list goes on.
Why am I naming people? Because I want to encourage you to do the same. Remember the people from your family legacy who have served in the military. Say their names out loud. If these people are no longer living, ask relatives to share stories with you about their time in service. Invoke their memory by recounting those stories. For those military family members who are either in service or retired, reach out to them to find out how they are doing. Ask them to tell you stories of their experiences. Listen with focus so that you can receive all that they have to offer and provide support and love as best you can.
If you notice that your living veteran needs support of any kind, encourage that person to contact Veterans Affairs. Any vet in need can contact the Veterans Crisis Line via veteranscrisisline.net or by calling 1-800-273-8255.
On this day that has been set aside to remember our military, I encourage you to take a few minutes to reach out to other military members beyond your personal military contacts. Stories abound about how touched our military personnel can become when they are far from home and they receive an acknowledgment of their service, even when it comes from someone they don't know. For many years, people have written letters to that end. Spread some love by writing a letter or two. Here's a website that makes this action super easy: amillionthanks.org/send_a_letter.php.
(Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)