Honoring Our Veterans: A Tribute to Service

Last updated: November 10, 2023, at 9:41 a.m. PT

Originally published: November 10, 2023, at 9:31 a.m. PT

"honoring our veterans" against a red, white, and blue graphic and illustrations of military service members

By Meesh Talbott, YMCA of Greater Seattle Director of Volunteerism and Community Engagement  

For the first five years of my life, I lived in Baumholder, Germany. Every morning, I woke up to the familiar sounds of base living. From the earliest time that I could walk, without failure, I would wake up and wait for my dad to leave for training. Then, I would sneak out of my room and slink over to the fridge. I would grab the comically large jar of pickles waiting for me and begin my morning ritual. I would sit on the steps outside our units and watch my dad join his platoon on their way to basic training (also known as "boot camp." The training is designed to build a solid foundation for a soldier's future goals and experiences in the Army.) I can still hear the early morning calm, the wind in the grass, the sound of boots hitting the ground almost in perfect unison – and yes, the crunching of my favorite snack.  

There was something so comforting about this morning ritual. It was like watching a visual representation of togetherness and dedication. These were my earliest memories of duty. 

After I turned five, we moved back to the United States and began a new life filled with community and values reflected by many branches of the armed forces. As a volunteer and someone deeply connected to my own family's involvement in the community and military service, I find it essential to reflect on the values instilled in our veterans. 

Honor, Respect, and Duty 

 Loyalty and integrity are values that my family and I have carried forward, much like the veterans we deeply admire. My father, a veteran of the United States Army, continues to emphasize the importance of standing alongside one another and doing what is right. My uncle, who was stationed alongside my dad in Germany, served in the Army for more than 30 years. In 2018, he was posthumously appointed a Master Sergeant in the Army in honor of his dedication and service to our country.  

Protecting What Matters 

My family's military background has instilled in me a deep sense of duty, much like the veterans I've had the privilege of meeting. The idea of service to others is a fundamental value passed down through the generations. Veterans willingly put themselves on the line to ensure the safety and well-being of their loved ones.  

Supporting Our Veterans 

As a community, we can play our part in supporting our veterans and drawing inspiration from their stories and values. 

  1. Volunteering: Just as veterans have served our nation, volunteering is a form of service that can make a difference in our communities. There are ways you can give back to your local veteran community. 
  2.  Acknowledgment and Appreciation: Take a moment to thank veterans for their service. A simple expression of gratitude can go a long way in making them feel valued and appreciated. 
  3. Empathy and Understanding: Empathy is a powerful tool for building connections. It is important to acknowledge that not all sacrifices are physical, nor are all wounds skin deep. You can show your support by listening to veterans share their stories about the challenges they've faced during their time in service.  
  4. Support Organizations: There are numerous organizations that assist veterans in various ways. Donating to organizations like POW-MIA Families, the Wounded Warrior Project, and more can help ensure that veterans receive the support they need. 

The values of duty, loyalty, and selflessness that veterans embody are deeply intertwined with the principles that drive the YMCA and my own family's commitment to service. Let us remember and appreciate the sacrifices made by veterans and commit ourselves to supporting them in every way possible. Together, we can honor our heroes and create a more compassionate and unified world. 



Happy Veterans Day 

As a token of our gratitude, we hope to welcome all our veterans and military service members to the Y. If you or someone you know is active in the military, please invite them to come and experience the Y for themselves. Through a partnership with the Department of Defense, qualifying active-duty military and their families can sign up for a free Y membership. Veterans and retired military personnel can sign up with a $0 join fee throughout this November (Coupon code: VAJOIN). All they need to do is present their Retired Military ID, Veterans DD214, or Veterans ID Card from the Department of Veterans Affairs and visit their local Y branch.

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