Thoughts and perspectives on this year’s Veterans Day

First: A heartfelt “THANK YOU” to all our veterans who sacrifice their lives and livelihoods so that the rest of us can live our lives as free citizens in our great nation. Military life is like no other. It is the willingness to endure many personal and family hardships while knowing that one day the ultimate sacrifice may be needed to protect our common ideals. For this willingness to serve, we should all be thankful.

As we head into the traditional holiday season over the next two months, it is important to remember that none of this would be possible without these sacrifices in service to our country. Although not by design, I like that we recognize Veterans Day ahead of the holiday season. It offers the opportunity to really reflect on the role of our military from a larger perspective.

Second: Let’s focus on why we celebrate Veterans Day and how it is different from Memorial Day. Here is how to distinguish between the two:

Memorial Day is a national day of remembrance for those who made the ultimate sacrifice, particularly in battle, in service to our nation.

Veterans Day is a national day to honor those who have served our country in war and peace—dead or alive—who have endured many hardships and sacrifices, so that the rest of us don’t have to worry about mobilizing for war.

Here is a great article that explains the history of the day and how it has changed over the years. If you have time, it is worth reading on this day.

Third: This year’s Veterans Day deeply resonates as I look back on my military career and as I look around at the COVID pandemic that we’re facing today. The last time I felt this way was during 9/11 when I was assigned to the Pentagon. We were largely mobilizing for war back then; yet there are some parallels in our nation’s pandemic response that stir many of the same reactions and emotions. Here is one parallel:

Mobilization is when our country must quickly organize in times of war, national defense or other national emergencies. In its full scope, mobilization includes the re-organization of our nation’s resources (e.g., military draft, industrial restructure, imposed economic shortages, etc.) in order to defeat a threat for an indefinite period. The last time our nation did this was during World War II.

In the decades since World War II, we have not had to face these kinds of challenges on the same scale. Since then, we have benefitted from a strong national security posture and, at least domestically, have been insulated from the worst of the intervening conflicts. Just like electricity, heat, and plumbing, we only notice the need to maintain it when it is no longer available. 

This year is different. Everyone reading this article has been affected by a partial mobilization (still ongoing in some states) during our nationwide lockdown. Entire industries were re-organized to produce ventilators, people changed their hygienic habits, and people learned to deal with shortages. Apart from job losses, these changes we have had to make to our daily lives are a small reflection of the sacrifices the military and their families make as part of their willingness to stand in between the nation’s people and the harsh realities of keeping our nation safe. Again, many thanks to our veterans for keeping us safe! 

There are many other reactions and emotions that come to the surface when I stop to think about Veterans Day. This year, I will use this day to honor those who are serving and who have served. Likewise, I will also use the day to spend some time with my family and focus on what is important. I encourage you all to do the same.

Finally, as we reflect on Veterans Day, I would like to share a short video on why each of our nation’s credit unions “do what they do” in terms of honoring our veterans. Please take some time to share the video and thank our veterans for their service. It seems like a small act. However, believe me—it means the world to those who serve in our country’s armed forces.


Anthony Hernandez

Anthony Hernandez

Anthony Hernandez is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Defense Credit Union Council (DCUC).  He joined DCUC as its Chief Operating Officer in August 2016 and was selected ... Web: Details