With Veterans Day, occurring today on Nov. 11, people all over the world remember the sacrifices and efforts of veterans and current military personnel. Specifically, military families and veterans are more greatly impacted by military-centered holidays due to their connection to military service.
Sophomore Lauren Lloyd, said she and her family are reminded of family and friends in other military families on holidays. “On the base, all members of the military live there, and we’re still really close friends with all of our old neighbors. We always try to call (them) and say thank you,” Lloyd said. Both of her parents served in the Marine Corps, and she has moved multiple times due to their service. Lloyd lived on a military base in both Chicago and Washington DC before moving to Carmel and said she still feels connected to the people she met despite living in different states.
Peter O’Hara, IB psychology teacher and retired Lieutenant Colonel of the army, also recognizes the sense of community created by being in the military. “There’s a sense of togetherness, and we look out for each other.” O’Hara worked as a field artillery officer in the army for 23 years before retiring and working at CHS. Most years, O’Hara speaks at the Veterans Day convocation, but due to COVID-19, the convocation will not be occurring.
In past years, the Veterans Day convocation has been organized by Will Ellery, IB History of the Americas teacher and son of an air force officer. Ellery said his job provides him with the opportunity to learn about the importance of the military and the days we honor them, more than being in a military family. In his work, he has been able to talk to countless veterans and learn about their lives, and he said the first-hand experience had a far greater impact on him than being related to an officer.
Senior Andrew McGray shares his sentiments. As a son of an army captain, he said he doesn’t feel as if his father’s military background impacts him greatly. “I am very grateful for those who have or are serving, but having my dad serving for so long, Veterans Day just feels like a normal day in my household,” he said via email. McGray’s father was deployed twice when he was young, and McGray said he believes that due to his deployments being so long ago, he was not affected as greatly as he would be if he was deployed now. Despite not seeing Veterans Day differently due to his father’s service, he tries to thank those who he can and said he feels it is very important to thank our troops for what they’ve done and sacrificed.
“I always go to a (Memorial Day) service whether I’m speaking or not, and it’s disheartening when you see how few people are there. There’s usually the high school band because they have to be there, and maybe 30-40 others, but there should be a lot more people,” O’Hara said, “Veterans Day is kind of the same thing. We should try to do something to make that a special day. I can go eat dinner free that day, get a free haircut, free carwash- those are all pretty cool perks, but everybody needs to take time to remember veterans on that day.”
The material aspect of military holidays is less important than what it represents to O’Hara. “It’s cool to get all those things, but it’s almost a superficial thing. A lot of people say thank you for your service, but a lot of people say it as words now. You have to really mean it. I think we should do more for veterans, and have more programs like we do (at CHS), it would mean more to me than the free gifts,” he said.
Similarly, Lloyd carries lessons from the military with her everyday. “Change is something you can’t prevent. You have to move with it. (The changes I’ve experienced) don’t suck, because they’ve given me so many experiences I know other people haven’t had,” she said. Lloyd said she’s proud and happy to share her experience, and the it has helped her put her life into perspective.
O’Hara said, “(The military) shapes everything. The way you see things, the way you talk to people, and it gives you a perspective the people who haven’t been out there don’t have” While he has worked as a teacher for years, O’Hara said he will always be a soldier and he could never forget the impact it left. “You make a difference in the military you can’t make in any other career.”