In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Veterans Day as a day which should be “filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory.” Since then, Veterans Day in the United States has been marked with ceremonies to acknowledge the selfless service of veterans.
When it comes to recognizing the service of your senior veteran on Veterans Day, you may feel your options are limited if your loved one is living in a senior living community. But with these engaging activities, you can find the perfect way to honor the senior veteran in your life.
10 ways to honor your senior veteran
As a caregiver, you can respectfully acknowledge your senior veteran’s time in the U.S. military through meaningful activities and events on Veterans Day. Designed to be inclusive of most cognitive and physical abilities, the following options may be adapted to fit individual veterans or senior living communities:
- Save their stories. Record your senior veteran’s military memories for the Veterans History Project through the Library of Congress. The LOC American Folklife Center preserves the important oral history of American veterans, from World War I to the current conflicts in the Global War on Terrorism.
- See the memorials. If your senior loved one is a combat veteran and healthy enough to travel, consider signing them up for a visit to the war memorials in Washington, D.C. through the Honor Flight Network. This program takes combat veterans on a once-in-a-lifetime tour of the nation’s capital.
- Create patriotic art. Bring grandchildren (or those who are kids at heart) to see your senior veteran and assemble a visual tribute of their service. Craft patriotic art projects and coloring pages to hang in your loved one’s living space at the senior living community.
- Share their history. Invite the former military service member in your life to discuss their service-related memories with their family and friends. You may choose to record these memories in a scrapbook or journal. Keep in mind that combat veterans, in particular, may be sensitive about sharing information from their time in uniform. Avoid asking questions that may provoke distress, as well as questions that you are not prepared to know the answer to as a family member or a friend.
- Consider VA enrollment. If your senior veteran is not already enrolled in the VA, ask them if they would like to pursue enrollment. Eligible veterans may find the VA Aid and Attendance program financially beneficial as a resident in a senior living community.
- Present the colors. Connect with your local ROTC program at a college or university in your state. Many ROTC programs maintain a color guard for use at special events. They may be able to perform a flag ceremony or indoor colors sequence at your veteran’s senior living community.
- Hear the band. Request a performance by the Army bands for your senior living community. As a great point of pride, these skilled musicians in uniform perform patriotic songs and music for audiences.
- Display their photos. Gather some photos of senior veterans, preferably from their time in uniform, to display in a place of prominence in the senior living community during the month of November.
- Bring the bugles. Talk with your local high school about the band performing Reveille at the raising of the senior living community’s flag on Veterans Day, and performing Retreat at the lowering of the flag at the end of the day. Invite the former military service members in your community to watch these ceremonies from around the flagpole.
- Stream a ceremony. One great option to stream includes the annual Veterans Day activities at Arizona’s well-known Anthem Veterans Memorial. The stained-glass panes in the Anthem pillars align only once a year — at 11:11 a.m. on November 11 — to form the Great Seal of the United States. The event coverage can be viewed online at the Anthem Community Council’s YouTube channel each year.
Depending upon your location, community-based veteran support organizations, such as the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), may provide additional Veterans Day programs for seniors in their posts and branches. You may also find that these organizations will partner with senior living communities in support of senior veterans or assist in honoring individual senior veterans upon request.
Veterans Day thank-you quotes
Looking for another way to show your gratitude? Display famous Veterans Day appreciation quotes throughout your senior veteran’s living space or in their senior living community. Consider these options for some memorable quotes honoring veterans:
- “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” — Winston Churchill
- “Duty, Honor, Country. Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be.” — Douglas MacArthur
- “The willingness of American’s Veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude.” — Jeff Miller
- “Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they have ever made a difference in the world, but the Marines don’t have that problem.” — Ronald Reagan
- “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” — John F. Kennedy
- “Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.” — Abraham Lincoln
With these achievable suggestions of heartfelt activities, events, and displays, making Veterans Day memorable for your senior veteran can be easy and rewarding for them and you.