The Ripon Forum

Volume 53, No. 5

Veterans Day 2019

“Never Forget”

By on November 3, 2019


Veterans Day. To some, it’s a day off from work. To some, it’s a time to remember their time serving.  To others, it’s a painful reminder of a loved one they’ve lost. It means something different for all of us. But maybe it shouldn’t.

Last year on Veterans Day, I found myself in a situation that proved reality was stranger than fiction. I had just made an appearance on Saturday Night Live the night before. When given the opportunity to do so, I was reluctant. I didn’t feel like it was the right way to spend Veterans Day weekend. I asked the producers to pick a different weekend. The producers at SNL said it had to be this weekend precisely because this appearance would be about honoring veterans. So I decided to do it.

The show gave me the chance to remind America about the things that bring us together. Appreciating our veterans is still one of them. But there is no doubt that we’re losing many of the symbols that brought us together as Americans. Things like the National Anthem, the American flag and the Pledge of Allegiance used to be seen as patriotic, things that were distinctly American and made us proud to be from the greatest country in the history of the world. That’s no longer the case today. Those historic symbols are offensive to some, slowly but surely pushing a sense of patriotism out of our society.

Many Americans are disconnected from the veteran community. According to data from 2016, just 7% of Americans are veterans. In 1980, that figure was 18%. The civilian-military divide is growing, with fewer and fewer Americans who know someone who served in the military.  As someone who served, I understand why. They are two completely different lifestyles, which is why veterans typically struggle with returning to civilian life. It’s hard for veterans to imagine the regular work life, just like it’s hard for a civilian to fathom life in combat. But like General Jim Mattis, I believe this is something we can change. Mattis said: “If we can create a society where respect and friendliness is the passport that we all have when we meet each other … then the military, who literally will go in harm’s way for us, will not seem alien anymore.” This was a key point we wanted to make that night on Saturday Night Live.

By saying “never forget,” you’re telling a veteran you appreciate everything they’ve done for our country.

We can start by focusing on Veterans Day. As I did last year, I challenge every American to say “never forget” to a veteran this Veterans Day instead of “thank you for your service.” Saying “never forget” shows veterans you’ve shared that experience with us. It doesn’t matter that you weren’t serving with us; it doesn’t matter that you might not know where we served, when, or how we served. But by saying “never forget,” you’re telling a veteran you appreciate everything they’ve done for our country and that you’re in it with them.  It’s not some mysterious unknown reality.  It’s a fellow American who is fighting or fought to keep our country safe. It’s important we let them know how much that means to us, even if we can’t fathom how they did it.

This Veterans Day, let’s get back to the things that defined America for generations: love of country, patriotism, optimism, and a deep appreciation of our veterans of past and present.

Never Forget.

Dan Crenshaw represents the 2nd District of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives. Dan was medically retired in September of 2016 as a Lieutenant Commander after serving ten years in the SEAL Teams. He left service with two Bronze Stars (one with Valor), the Purple Heart, the Navy Commendation Medal with Valor, and multiple other awards.

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