As air travelers sit casually waiting to board incoming planes, a large group of military personnel returning home from deployment files through the concourse. A civilian stands and begins to clap. One by one, the other onlookers rise and add to the ovation.

The soldiers are taken aback by the display. Visible smiles overtake their faces as they enjoy the public display of gratitude.

While the scene just described didn’t take place in real life but rather in a TV commercial, its message is nonetheless powerful. And as we approach another Veterans Day, perhaps there’s no better reminder that Americans should regularly show appreciation for our nation’s servicemen, servicewomen and their families.

The United States has been officially celebrating its military in one form or another since President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed an Armistice Day for November 11, 1919 to honor those who served in World War I. Armistice Day became a legal holiday in 1938 and was changed to Veterans Day in 1954 as to include all veterans.

It seems like this country has come full circle in this regard—from the overt nationalism celebrated during World War II, to the despicable treatment of our soldiers returning from Vietnam, to the present day where there’s broad support for those serving in Afghanistan and Iraq despite honest disagreements about the validity of those conflicts.

But is it really enough to vocalize support for the military? Even the aforementioned depiction of support might be lacking compared to the most valuable gifts we can offer the men and women who have given up so much for our freedom—our ears and our time.

So this Veterans Day, why not find a soldier and ask them to share some stories of their time in the armed forces? It could be a relative, a neighbor, a fellow church member or a co-worker. And in the rare chance there are no veterans in your immediate circle, visit a local VA hospital or National Guard Armory. There’s no telling what amazing tales of heroism and patriotism that are waiting to be unearthed. Click here to watch inspirational videos of some of the most patriotic heroes in our history.

Our veterans have given much more than lip service to this republic. In some cases they have given a limb and even their life. Maybe its time we give more than lip service—and instead ear service—in return.

Click here to watch inspirational patriotic videos.

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