Veterans Day commemorates the end of World War I, the war to end all wars. It’s become a day to remember all Veterans and victims of war. In America we especially honor that precious one percent of our population who have fought our longest-running wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, their brothers and sisters who served in Bosnia, Ethiopia, the Gulf wars, Vietnam, Korea, World War II. It’s a day when flags come out and a wave of patriotism elevates us. A day when we all feel like patriots.A quick online definition of patriot is someone who “vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.” Most of us are not called up to defend our country in combat but make no mistake: we are called up to serve.

What does a patriot look like? Patriots reflect the people who make up this nation, different in many ways, some physical, some cultural. Some patriots had the great good fortune to have been born here in peace and prosperity. Others have earned the right to be called patriot. Because ours is a nation of many differing individuals, you must go inward to see the core of a patriot.

A patriot exercises the freedom to speak out, to have a say in how we are governed by voting, by contributing to community. In short, by participating in this great experiment we call America.

A patriot supports those who are willing to put themselves in harm’s way for our country. They use the tools and resources of a citizen to ensure that the patriots who sacrifice for our freedoms receive the benefits they’ve earned, the care they need to heal when they return to our society. Patriots volunteer, they help build community. They take responsibility for their country.

Living the core of a true patriot requires paying attention to our values every day. It involves hard choices and the grit to take responsibility for them. Those patriots who wear the uniforms of our armed services? They do that every day. Not just on Veterans Day or other holidays.

I invite you to suit up. Live the core. Lead by example. Honor our Veterans by reflecting back to them the commitment and dedication they have shown to us.

If you know a veteran who needs help, here’s the number for the National Veterans Foundation’s Lifeline for Vets 888.777.4443

Shad Meshad

As a U.S. Army Medical Service Officer in Vietnam in 1970, Shad Meshad began pioneering treatment techniques for what would later become known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He is the founder of the National Veterans Foundation and founder and co-author of the VA’s Vet Center Program.

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