November 11, 2018 will be an extra special day to honor Veterans. This year we’ll be commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. What a perfect time for honoring veterans within your assisted living community, with a holiday celebration.
Here are 20+ ideas for ways to celebrate:
- Decorate the facility with patriotic colors and American flags – find ideas for do-it-yourself decor with a quick Pinterest search like this one.
- Print and post a Veterans’ Day Poster for the current or previous years from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website:
- Every year the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs creates an annual Veterans’ Day poster. More than 20,000 Veterans posters are distributed to military installations, federal agencies, veterans nursing homes, state veterans offices, VA facilities and many other locations. The poster also appears on the official program for the Veterans Day Celebration at Arlington National Cemetery and establishes the theme for the ceremony. You can find them here, including high resolution downloadable files that you can print yourself.
Host a Ceremony:
- A ceremony gives you the chance to draw attention to your residents, staff and family members that are veterans and show them they’re appreciated in front of the entire assisted living community. Family and friends can also be invited.
- See if a local church, school choir or other musicians would be willing to come and perform patriotic songs that Veterans and others can sing along with.
- Invite a local ROTC Color Guard to come in for a flag ceremony.
- Ask Veterans how long they served and what branch of the military they were in and recognize those that served the longest.
- Find a photo of the veterans in their uniform that can be posted on a bulletin board or displayed in a community room.
- Ask Veterans to wear their favorite military item (hat, jacket, uniform) or red, white and blue in honor of their service and take a picture of them as a group and individually.
- Consider buying a Veteran Lapel pin to recognize them for their service. Ideas for inexpensive pins here.
- Present flags to the widows of veterans.
- Read and share a Veteran-themed poem.
- Ask if a local classroom would be interested in writing thank you notes to your Veterans or coming to share a song or a poem in honor of the special day.
- Have your staff, family and friends wear their favorite “Pro-Veteran” T-Shirt or hat. (A quick search online will find many ideas, like: Free Hugs for Vets; Remember Our Fallen Veterans; Freedom is not FREE…; Thank a VETERAN; I Heart Veterans!).
- Print colorful thank you cards for your Veterans like the ones shown here.
- Be creative, but be sure to recognize all of your veterans publicly in some way.
Plan a Special Field Trip:
- Take your Veterans out to lunch – Many restaurants offer FREE lunch for Veterans on the holiday. Here’s a list, but your local newspaper may have more info about local restaurants.
- Check to see if your city holds a Veteran’s Day parade or ceremony. If so, make plans to go and watch or participate.
- Consider helping your Veterans make arrangements to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington DC with Honor Flight Network
- Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices. They transport our heroes to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorials. Top priority is given to the senior veterans – World War II survivors, along with those other veterans who may be terminally ill.
Other Significant Ways to Honor our Heroes:
- Register all your resident WWII veterans at the online National World War II Registry. (or pass along the information so family members can help)
- Anyone who contributed to the war effort in uniform and on the home front is eligible. Not just those who served in the military.
- A certificate honoring the veteran can be printed and displayed
- Names in the Registry are forever linked to the Washington DC memorial’s bronze and granite representations of their sacrifice and achievement.
- Veterans who served in WWII are eligible, as well as those who served at home, by filling a need that supported the war.
- Were there women that served in the USO or worked in munitions factories because so many workers were off fighting the war? They can be honored too.
- For a $10 donation, a photo of the person (either past or recent) can be added to the registry.
- Consider participating in the Veterans’ History Project – by inviting someone to record interviews, gather photos, letters, etc. to capture the Veterans’ stories
- Check out this list from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs with 45 other ways that all Veterans can and should be honored on Veterans’ Day.
- Here are 30 more ways to honor Veterans throughout the year, both at home, work and beyond.
If you live near Anthem, Arizona, make plans to visit the unique “Anthem Veterans Memorial” statues. The pillars are staggered in size and ordered in accordance with the Department of Defense prescribed precedence, ranging from the United States Army, the United States Marine Corp, the United States Navy, the United States Air Force, and the United States Coast Guard. They are located in Anthem Community Park and aligned so that at precisely 11:11 a.m. on Veterans Day (11/11), the sun’s rays will pass through each of the five pillars’ elliptical openings to illuminate a glass mosaic medallion of the Great Seal of the United States. The ceremony begins at 10:00 am each year on Veteran’s Day. Visit the site here for more info.