When I was a kid, Veterans Day meant honoring old men, namely WWII and Vietnam veterans, and getting a day off school. Sure, we had assemblies and honored men and women who also served in the Korean War, the Gulf War, and the Grenada situation. but during my life to that point, there hadn’t been a long drawn-out war with thousands of U.S. casualties. Therefore, Veterans Day to me meant honoring and remembering people my grandparents’ age.

Then September 11, 2001 happened. Suddenly, friends of mine who had entered the military after high school were facing active duty. This was new to all of us – we hadn’t had to think about friends and family potentially dying in battles half a world away. And within two years, the U.S. was involved in the Global War on Terrorism and the Iraq War. I had friends in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Veterans Day started meaning something more to me, more than just a day off of work. Friends of mine had experience battled. All of my loved ones were able to return; we were lucky. But all of my friends who served lost comrades, something I know they think about every day.

And then Veterans Day took on more meaning after I met my husband. He served eight years with the Marine Corps, doing two tours in Iraq. I didn’t meet him until six months after he left active duty, so I didn’t experience the pain in watching him from overseas. But now Veterans Day has taken a meaning I never expected – I’m honoring the man I love, the father of my child, and all that he did to help keep us safe then and into the future. Veterans Day and Memorial Day are hard for him, remembering everything he did and saw during his eight years in the military. And mostly remembering the friends he lost, the friends he wasn’t able to save or protect. But over the seven years we’ve been together, I’ve found that just giving him a hug and saying “thank you” is all he really wants.

So this Veterans Day, while you’re attending a ceremony, talking to loved ones, or just enjoying the day off, please find at least one vet to hug. And say “thank you” to every veteran you see, even if you don’t know them personally. You never know when a loved one will become a veteran… or when a veteran will no longer have loved ones around to let them know they didn’t make all those sacrifices for nothing.

Kira Cox

Hi, I’m Kira. I joined Verity in early 2012 after a seven-year stint as a newspaper reporter. While I never thought my career path would veer off in this direction, I am loving my time at Verity. I recently moved from being a member services representative at the Alderwood Branch to being the marketing coordinator for the credit union.

I’m originally from Texas, but I have lived all over the country and the world, including Boston, Massachusetts, Anchorage, Alaska and Sydney, Australia. But in all my travels, the Pacific Northwest is the only place that has felt like home.

When not at work, I am usually home with playing with my son, husband, dog and three cats. During the rare times I don’t have a to-do list to plow through (and it’s not raining too hard), I can be found digging in the vegetable garden, training for a half-marathon, or grilling in the backyard.

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