Every year on November 11th, we remember the armistice, signed on November 11th, 1918, that ended the First World War. One hundred years later, it can be easy to forget why we celebrate this day of all days, as the living memory of that war fades. The fact is, thousands of young men from Boston’s neighborhoods, and from all across our country, put their lives on the line to defend our allies in the Great War. Today, the legacy of that courage and sacrifice is alive all around us — in the men and women in our neighborhoods who continue to serve our country; the families who continue to sacrifice; and veterans who continue to make Boston the great city that it is. It is essential, this year and every year, that we acknowledge and thank these honored members of our community.
More than 22,000 veterans call Boston home. They embody a commitment to service that doesn’t disappear when they hang up their uniforms. When they come home, veterans continue to serve their community as leaders, parents, teachers, mentors, first responders, and more. Their valuable contributions make Boston a better place, and we should be thanking them each and every day for that.
It’s also important for us to remember that veterans and their families often face unique challenges. Many deal with deep wounds, both visible and invisible. Since I was elected Mayor, I have worked hard to make Boston a city where veterans truly thrive, personally and professionally, throughout their lives. I believe that we need to show our veterans that we are grateful every single day. And one of the most important ways we do this is by showing vets that they can ask for help, and that they will receive it. It’s what we owe them in return for all they have given us.
These are the values behind some of our most ambitious work in the City of Boston: from ending chronic veterans homelessness to improving access to supportive housing, healthcare, recovery services, employment programs for vets with and without PTSD, and much more. A question I hear all the time from residents is, “How can I help?” One of the simplest, and most powerful ways that every member of the Boston community can help support our veterans is simply saying “thank you.” And that’s exactly what we do through Operation Thank a Vet.
Over the last few months, our goal has been to personally reach out to all 22,000 veterans in our city. We wanted to make sure each of them knows about all the resources that our city has made available to them. We’ve connected with thousands of vets so far, but we have thousands more to go. That’s where you come in.
A century ago, the events of November 11th gave people hope for a more peaceful and prosperous future. This week, we’ll recognize those among us who have continued that mission and put their lives on the line in the name of those same values. In Boston, we never forget the sacrifices people made for the good of our community. We know that our strength comes from our willingness to lift our neighbors up in good times and hard times. And we will always be grateful to our veterans, not just on November 11th, but every day.
If you are a veteran who would like to be connected to services in Boston, please reach out to Boston’s Veterans Services, www.boston.gov/departments/veterans-services, email [email protected], or call 617-241-VETS (8387).
Martin J. Walsh is the Mayor of Boston.