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Honoring the Veterans in Your Family

Ways to celebrate the contributions made by real heroes

Take a veteran to school. The History Channel is sponsoring an initiative to link veterans of all ages with young people in schools and communities. This way, we can show how much we value the vets' service and how much we have to learn from them. Visit for a how-to guide, teacher resources, and video clips.

Get out the memorabilia. Encourage the veterans in your family to open that old footlocker and get out their keepsakes. It may have been a long time since they took a look. Ask questions; get them to explain what the medals are for and how they wore their uniform. What kind of equipment do they still have, such as a mess kit, ammunition, or uniforms? Do they still have a copy of their commission papers? How did they feel when they got drafted? Many times these items will stir memories better than anything else.

Make a shadowbox. Display flags, medals, insignia, uniforms, hats, badges, challenge coins, photos, and other memorabilia from your family member's military service.

Create a scrapbook. Gather your family member's important documents, such as enlistment papers, commissions, orders, certificates of release or discharge papers, awards, badges, photos, letters, or draft notifications.

Watch a documentary or a movie as a family. Learn about the history of the military service your family member belonged to, or watch a movie that dramatizes the conflict in which your relative served. Sometimes that will make it more real for younger family members.

Make a family donation to an organization that supports military veterans. There are many organizations supporting disabled veterans, veteran's homes, and services for veterans.

Visit a Veterans Administration hospital or a retirement community or nursing home for veterans. Bring some good cheer to the veterans who haven't had visitors for a while. Even if your family member who served in the military isn't here for you to thank, you can honor him or her by reaching out to veterans in your community.

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