The fourth of July may have come and gone, but U.S. soldiers are serving everyday to protect us. Throughout the history of the country, brave men and women have given up parts of their lives to defend the most important values of our country, like freedom, liberty, and justice. Many have even given the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives.
Chances are that you know a veteran or active duty soldier. Whether it’s your brother/sister, parent, child, family member or friend, there are many ways to pay respect to the many soldiers who serve our country.
Say “Thank You”
These two words are so simple, but so impactful. While it’s far less than they deserve for their immense sacrifice, they appreciate that you take the time to recognize the service and dedication they have to our country. If you have a little more time, consider writing a thank-you letter or card for A Million Thanks, which supports active, reserve, and veteran military men and women by sending letters of thanks and encouragement.
If you know someone who is currently serving and want to do something even more personalized, consider asking them to help you by giving you the first names of their colleagues. You can get a group of friends together and write a letter to each, and your contact can help distribute the letters to the specific individual recipient.
Active duty soldiers give up so much to serve our country, and are dedicated to protecting our freedom – anywhere in the world. One of the ways to show those who are presently serving how much they are appreciated is to send a gift box or goody-bag to Armed Forces members serving around the world.
Some of the things service members love to find are:
Video games, board games, movies, and cards.
Personal hygiene products, like high-quality lotions, pain-relieving creams and gels, lip balm, and socks.
Hot sauce, individual drink-flavoring packets, barbecue sauce, tuna cans, and beef jerky.
Drop by for a Visit
Many soldiers are recovering in local VA hospitals, while others might be living in or recovering in nursing homes or rehabilitation centers. Don’t forget about them. Send them cards, notes, or care packages. If they are nearby, stop by for a visit. It will help to ease their loneliness and feel appreciated for the great contribution they gave our county.
Take Care of Their Families
Many soldiers worry about their family members while they are serving. Whether you choose to befriend a family, help to take care of young children, donate to organizations that provide for the families while the soldiers are away, like Operation Homefront, or putting together gift baskets and packages for these families. There are many ways you can give the fighting soldiers stress relief and peace of mind, knowing their families are being cared for.
Think about their four-legged friends as well. If you like pets, consider volunteering to foster pets for soldiers. Unfortunately, many military pet owners find themselves having to surrender their pets to shelters or rescue groups so they can go on deployments, trainings, or re-assignments.
Honor Lost Soldiers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
In Arlington National Cemetery, a white marble sarcophagus stands atop a hill protecting an unknown solider killed in action in World War I. Also buried at the site are soldiers who were killed during World War II, in Korea, and in Vietnam.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was built in 1921, when the U.S. Congress approved the burial. The sarcophagus features Greek figures, representing peace, victory, and valor — three ideals our soldiers fight to achieve. Six wreaths were sculpted in the piece to represent the six World War I campaigns, and the words, “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God,” are inscribed on the back.
In order to protect the tomb, a civilian guard was posted, beginning in 1925, and in 1926, an Army soldier began protecting the tomb during the cemetery’s open hours. Since July 1, 1937, guard duty expanded to a 24-hour watch, and the tomb has been protected every second since that time. The Sentinels who protect the tomb go through a series of tests, and are part of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, or “The Old Guard.” The Old Guard is the oldest active infantry unit, serving since 1794.
Sentinels are both males and females, and must follow a strict service and dress code. The changing of the guard, which happens every 30 minutes between April 1 and Sept. 30, and every hour from Oct. 1 to March 31. Visiting the tomb is a powerful reminder of the sacrifice made by our U.S. soldiers.
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As the temperatures continue to rise, it is important to use bug repellent when you are outdoors! Mosquitos are most prevalent during summer months. Just like using sunscreen, it is important to protect your skin from insect bites, as well.
Unfortunately, mosquitos have been on earth for more than 30 million years, and are not going away any time soon. Make sure you are using bug repellent or ointment when you are outdoors this summer!