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LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Let’s support our veterans
To the editor:
Nine years ago, Unity of Whidbey, Langley United Methodist Church and many other loving members of our community created a “Welcome Home” ceremony for our community’s veterans.
At the time, our country was just becoming aware of how the soul-wounds of Vietnam vets were still unhealed due in part to the unwelcoming nature of their return to the country they served. The co-creators of “Welcome Home” wanted to take a step towards healing those wounds — both in them and in us, their fellow citizens — by creating an opportunity for reconciliation and to acknowledge the deep price veterans have paid in service to our country.
It was a step in the right direction. But this kind of acknowledgement can never and should never be a one-time deal.
Now, nine years later, our island is blessed to have a new organization, the Veterans Resource Center (VRC). The VRC was founded by a core group of community members, including Judith Gorman and Perry McClellan who helped nurture the formation of the group in response to the needs of their own veteran son. The organization’s mission is to promote community-based efforts to heal the effects of war on veterans, their families and communities.
As one of their first community-wide offerings, VRC volunteers are planning an important event for honoring our veterans this Memorial Day. “A Tribute for Veterans, their Families and Communities: Honoring the Heart of the Matter” will be held from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Monday, May 25 in the Langley Middle School auditorium, 723 Camano Ave. Among many of the activities on that day, there will be readings of poetry and prose written by vets and their family members.
Even though our world is experiencing a wide range of crises and challenges, I believe organizations like the Veterans Resource Center offer us signs of hope. It wasn’t so long ago that many in this country did not understand, nor did we feel compassion for those who fought our wars. We often confused our opinions about the wars themselves with our feelings about our vets — and consequently inflicted even greater wounds upon those who had already given so much.
But this last decade has seen a shift in our collective consciousness as a nation. Bumper stickers all declare support for the troops, even while some express the belief that “bringing them home” is the best support we can offer. Women in Black stand silent along our roadways in opposition to war, while standing in full support of their sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, husbands and friends who fight in them.
We may never agree on the political choices around going to war or ending it, but we are finding common ground around how we treat and honor our veterans. I believe this is an important step toward creating a greater peace at home. Each of us can take another step together this Memorial Day by attending this important tribute to our veterans.
The Veterans Resource Center is a Washington State nonprofit educational and charitable corporation, and a program of IHCenter, a 501c3 non profit organization. To learn more, visit www.IHCenter.org and/or www.vetsresourcecenter.org or call 360-321-7226.