Recording memories for future generations
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A military history everyone can share



When talking to people about the benefits of writing a personal history, I always use the example of why our U.S. servicemen and women should record their military history in their own words. Those personal insights bring passion and meaning to our country’s history. They fill in the details and describe a culture can only be fully told by the individuals who served.

In group discussions, however, someone who has not served in the armed forces always reminds me that they have nothing to pass on to the next generation.  What does Veterans Day mean to you?

Over the years I have done plenty of civic and charitable deeds, starting with Girl Scouts, but I have never served our country in the military.  I will never know what it is like to live in the desert for a month with sand infused into every pore of my body. I won’t carry a 100-pound backpack. Neither will I go months at a time without one single letter from home. I haven’t eaten Spam in 40 years. Neither will I know what it’s like to fly missions in the Air Force when I launch into bursts of energy over a target and then battle the adrenaline rush of dodging enemy flak for hours afterward. I never said goodbye to a buddy killed in action. The only foxhole I ever saw was in the woods. I’ve never stepped off a Navy ship or a cargo plane and kissed the ground.  Maybe I should.  Maybe I should attend a few more Welcome Home celebrations. Maybe then I will understand a little more when a veteran says, “You just won’t understand what it was like. You weren’t there.”

Here’s an idea for Veterans Day on how to record a military history for the non serviceman and woman.

As an exercise in writing your personal history, take some time to record your thoughts on patriotism, freedom, courage, heroism, acts of bravery, the people you knew who served in the armed forces, where you were and how you felt the day significant historical events occurred in your life, the American flag, community service, and the practice of giving back. Talk about what makes you proud to be an American.

It’s perfectly fine to sound like a Toby Keith song.

List out these ideas on a notepad (or a Word document). Next to each idea, compose a list of bullet points that begin to tell a story on something in your life. Slowly paint that picture in your own words. Concentrate on one section at a time. Tell that story as deeply and fully as you can remember.

Every day you live your legacy. That includes being a witness to history.  Maybe one of the best things you can do this Veteran’s Day is to write a note that your share with a veteran.  American pride: It’s worth documenting.


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