I visited The Humble Stitcher after she left a comment on Maida Today. On her blog, Sandy mentions that the graphic in her banner was from a book called The Tribute Book, which was published in 1865 as "A Record of the Munificence, Self-Sacrifice and Patriotism of the American People During the War for the Union." The book is a detailed account of what regular people did to support not only the war effort, but the returning soldiers as well as the widows and children of those soldiers. The graphic is actually an illustration of a young girl who had too many dolls to know what to do with them. So she dressed up as The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe and auctioned off the dolls so that she might be able to give money herself. Visit the Humble Stitcher to see the graphic in greater detail.
I found the The Tribute Book online, intending to look for graphics. But what I found was even greater: amazing stories of citizenship. The people of that time didn't just send the soldiers off and then play the 1865 version of Call of Duty in the privacy of their homes while real soldiers fought real wars. They saw that every citizen needed to sacrifice. They saw that there was more than one battlefield to fight on.
Not long ago, I saw this interview with Tom Brokaw on the Daily Show. In the interview, Tom talks about how the soldiers serving our country represent 1% of our population. An extremely small portion of our population is bearing the cost for defending our nation. Many of these families have repeatedly sacrificed as a family member has been deployed not once but several times. Watch the video, it's interesting and highlights the importance of remembering our military not only on Veteran's Day but when they come home. Tom Brokaw, in this interview with Stephen Colbert, talks about how after 911 people volunteered for military service. He says they are likely The Next Great Generation. In talking about this 1% of our population, Tom says, "Not enough was asked of the rest of us."
It's not only the soldier who serves. The family of the soldier serves as well. The children of the family miss having one of their parents there for a portion of their formative years. The spouse takes on all the things that the loved one serving used to do. And sometimes children take on extra responsibilities as well, as shown in this 1865 graphic above. And sometimes these families make the greatest sacrifice:
The people at home not fighting themselves saw that they had a job to do, too, in serving our country. They served by helping the soldiers through nursing or knitting.
Those at home gave of their time and gave of themselves.
Having a day to honor those who have served our country is a good thing. In reading this you can see it's reminded me to remember. While it's wonderful, one day is not enough. These families without a parent or spouse need support all year long.
So what can we practically do?
United We Serve has a page that details ways regular citizens can help veterans:
Oprah.com has a section on How You Can Help.
I want to learn what I can do. I live in an area where people have been welcoming troops home in Bangor Maine since 2003. This makes me proud, but it's not practical for me, because I have kids that need watching. I may not be able to do that, but I can do something.
"Do not let what you cannot do
keep you from doing what you can do."