comscore For our veterans, a day to remember -- and a chance to show our support | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Editorial | Island Voices

For our veterans, a day to remember — and a chance to show our support

    Flags are placed on grave sites at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe in 2008 to mark Veterans Day.

  • Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo, a first lieutenant in the Hawaii Army National Guard and two-time Middle East combat veteran, currently serves on reserve status as a company commander for headquarters, 103rd Troop Command. She also is a newly elected Honolulu City Council member for District 6.

As I hear "The Star-Spangled Banner" being sung and see the red, white and blue flapping in the wind, I get chicken skin and am moved by the sacrifices of generations, who have made our country free and great.

Every Veterans Day is a time to reflect upon and commemorate our fallen heroes from a storied past. Whether they served in WWII with the world-renowned nisei veterans of the "Go For Broke" battalion, or are heroes from my generation, like 1st Lt. Nainoa Hoe and Sgt. Deyson Cariaga, all gave their lives in the service of our state and country. Their honorable service and sacrifice cannot be measured.

There is a new generation of veterans being formed. Hundreds of thousands of service members are serving overseas today, all over the world. There is no holiday for them, or wreaths of beautiful flowers in their honor. They will not enjoy a day off at the beach with their family. They will not march in a Veterans Day parade. They will continue working, continuing the sacrifice, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. They don’t care about politics, praise or awards. It is about their buddies to their left and right. It’s about fighting for their families, and making sure that everyone comes home safe. They serve with honor, selflessness and a strong sense of duty.

Remember them, for they remember you.

The unsung heroes on Veterans Day are families — those whose sacrifices are rarely honored, and whose services are often forgotten. The spouses and children of these heroes suffer day in and day out, standing by their veterans and service members, walking through every hardship, every war and serving as a stable foundation. Their strength and sacrifice serve as an example to us all.

This Veterans Day we should all remember and give thanks for their sacrifices, but I ask you to go one step further, and give thanks through action.

There are many challenges facing our returning servicemembers, and much support is needed. The ever-growing population of new veterans faces a new set of challenges. With advances in medical technology and protective gear, more veterans are returning home disabled. Nearly 20 percent of returning veterans suffer from post traumatic stress disorder or major depression. The unemployment rate for veterans is well above the national average, and continues to rise. Across the country, it is estimated that more than 107,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, with more than 1.5 million veterans at risk of becoming homeless. Suicides are on the rise.

As a community and as a nation, we cannot allow this to continue. As we reflect and give thanks for their sacrifice, we must take action.

We can begin by giving thanks through how we live our daily lives. We must exercise our rights of liberty and the pursuit of happiness, freedom of religion and democracy. Get involved. Be a part of shaping the future for our children. Look outside of our own personal lives and see how we can be of service to others. Too many have died and sacrificed for us to do any less.

As we go about our lives every day, let us give thanks to those who sacrifice their lives for our freedom. Don’t sweat the small stuff, tell your family members that you love them, appreciate the beautiful islands we call home, and know that every day and every breath is precious.

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