By Valerie Cox, guest contributor, American Red Cross
On August 14, 1945, Americans experienced one of our greatest celebrations to date…the ending of World War II. 70 years ago today, President Harry Truman announced Japan’s surrender which meant one of the bloodiest wars had finally come to an end. From London to New York City to Paris, celebrations erupted worldwide as people rejoiced over the coming peace. People celebrated that their soldiers were finally coming home, and for those grieving, they celebrated that their loved ones’ lives were not lost in vain.
Over 16 million Americans served in World War II, and today, less than a million are still alive. The National World War II Museum estimates that America is losing approximately 492 World War II veterans each day. With each passing day, we are losing the memories and experiences of these veterans with no way to replace them. Even though students study WWII, nothing can substitute the firsthand knowledge these veterans hold. When we encounter military veterans, we should respect their privacy but also listen when they are ready to talk. After these courageous men and women are gone, our only knowledge of WWII will be what we learn through history books.
As Americans, the fabric of our great nation is held together by our military veterans, and many heroically served our country by making the ultimate sacrifice. The commitment and courage these brave men and women possess should serve as an example for us all. As a country, we need to come together and start showing our veterans the respect they deserve. From the elderly WWII veteran to the middle aged veteran Vietnam veteran to the current generation serving in the Middle East, we owe these men and women everything. A simple “thank you” goes further than you might imagine. Many cities have veteran support groups you can volunteer through, or you can donate to a worthy charitable organization that engages in veteran support.
In the corporate world, many organizations stepped up and became involved in veteran assistance. These companies found an area they are passionate about supporting, and they are making a difference. No matter the size, each business should take the initiative and actively volunteer to benefit an area of interest. Along with many others, the following companies are changing the face of veteran support and showing us that every effort matters:
- 100,000 Jobs Mission– a coalition of 191 corporations who pledged to employ 100,000 veterans
- Accenture- Skills to Succeed, trains veterans (and civilians) with business skills and etiquette
- American Red Cross- Service to Armed Forces, provides assistance to active duty military, military
families, and veterans
- Caliber Collision- Recycled Rides, donates refurbished vehicles to veterans and active-duty military
- General Motors- General Motors Service Technical College, provides employment and education in the
- Green Beans Coffee- Cup O’Joe for a Joe, supplies coffee to military stationed overseas
- Snap-On Tools- Honor Flight Network, gives flights for veterans to visit memorials in Washington D.C.
- Starbucks- Starbucks Armed Forces Network, offers jobs to veteran and military spouse and serves as a
support group for veteran employees.
Today, on August 14, 2015, we celebrate Japan surrendering which led to the end of World War II, and we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. 70 years later, we still revel in the celebration that occurred, and we should thank our veterans who made that celebration possible. Whether you are the CEO of a global corporation or stay-at-home mother, we can all play an active role in thanking our military veterans because we would not be here today without them.
Make it a point today to honor a WWII veteran. They paid a high price for the freedoms that we enjoy!