Honoring Our Veterans at Reunions

It is as important as ever to recognize and support our active military forces and veterans for their service to our county. Those of us who haven’t served in the military can only appreciate the efforts our service men and women constantly make, especially those in dangerous combat situations.

We may not think about the perils and risks our military service men and women go through in locations around the world. Hence, we can help them feel appreciated when they return home especially when many vets have difficulty trying to assimilate back into society. As you look for class reunion ideas and activities, consider adding a short ceremony at your next reunion to honor and thank your alumni military veterans.

For people we know who served their country, it is never too late to appreciate what they have done. Indeed, it would be especially wonderful to recognize and thank them amongst their peers. When I graduated high school in 1967, several of our classmates either enlisted or were drafted into the armed services and many were sent to fight in the Vietnam War. However, because of the unpopularity of that War, many returning veterans were treated despicably and in fact, were shamed and blamed in the years that followed. Their military service was often ignored or dismissed and many were forced to live in darkness about their association with that War.

For my recent 45th high school reunion, I wanted to honor our alumni veterans. I didn’t realize how incredibly special that gesture turned out to be for our veterans. I wish I had thought of it sooner, but I am so glad we did it for this reunion.

I felt it important to present our vets with commemorations or plaques from distinguished individuals or government representatives. I requested and received a commemorative plaque from Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who as it turned out also served in the Vietnam War and thanked me heartily for doing this. He signed and gave me the proclamations which I distributed at my reunion. I also asked U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein’s office in Los Angeles if they would participate with a letter of thanks for each vet. They did, and both commendations were presented to our veteran alumni at the reunion.

I wanted another military figure to help me present these honors, so I asked the Councilman if he knew of any military vets in our area who could help me with the presentations at our reunion. He suggested Chaplain Dev Cohen who had served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War as a Jewish Chaplain. Dev graciously accepted my invitation and donated his time to come to our reunion and say a few words on behalf of our veterans and helped me distribute the proclamations.

As it turned out, this event resulted in the most moving moment of any of our reunions. A few of our alumni vets told me this was the first time anyone had thanked or appreciated them for their service.  Our vets certainly deserve it.

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