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Get back to work, hippie

November 11, 2010

Members of the Black Hills chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association ride in a parade in downtown Rapid City, S.D., Nov. 11, 2007. Rapid City hosted the parade to honor those who have served and are currently serving in the U.S. military. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller)

Every year around Veterans Day the conversation comes up with my mom – why does every federal government worker get Veteran’s Day off, when it’s a day designed to honor those who have served, most of whom don’t work for the government and will not be able to sleep in and slack off this day? I easily concur with her, especially since I’ve spent the past several years as a non-veteran federal government employee, who has had the chance to have this day off. Why is it that I get to sit home when my dad, who is a veteran, will be working this day the same as other days – no special recognition, no holiday.

We owe our veterans a lot. When we think of the freedoms we experience today we owe each of them to those veterans who came before us, who sacrificed years away from family, who sacrificed comfort, who fought for little pay and in some cases no recognition. I have a special place in my heart for Vietnam veterans, because my dad is one and because when we reflect on how history treated those veterans we as a nation should feel nothing but shame. Even those who disagree with the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at least have the decency to not hold their opinions against those serving. This was not so for the Vietnam veterans arriving back home in the 1970s. Service was disdained, or discarded. I don’t think this generation has ever received the thanks they should.

And that certainly continues today, when on Veterans Day, most of this generation of serving veterans will continue going to work as if it is any other day. Living near Washington, D.C. I’m no stranger to civil servants. They fill the halls of government offices and flood the city streets Monday-Friday. And today, most of them with no military service whatsoever, are sitting home in fuzzy slippers and enjoying a coveted federal holiday. Sadly enough many of them will likely not acknowledge or remember what the purpose of this day is – to serve those who have served us.

All over the news this morning I’m seeing the proposals to grow jobs and cut deficit spending. Here’s an idea for you – how about you make all federal government employees work this day, and you give veterans – and just veterans, regardless of where they work – the day off. Why is it that every employee in the Veteran’s Administration should have this day off, delaying claims, failing to get work done to serve our veterans? If federal government employees really want this day off they should use it in a way that pays tribute to our veterans – by serving local vets in their community, honoring them through community service or attending ceremonies in their honor.

I now work at home so I don’t have any sanctioned holidays, but I officially offer next year to serve in the place of any veteran  – send me to your place of employment and I’ll gladly put my nose to the grindstone so you can enjoy this day in your honor. Our veterans have given us more than we can repay. We owe them more than a day for government employees to slack off. We owe them a tribute that recognizes their service and gives them our thanks.

If you’re at work today I challenge you to seek out the veterans working around you and thank them for their service. Buy them lunch, and make this holiday what it should be – a tribute to those who have served.

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