Today is Veteran’s Day. This day is really important to me… I’ll tell you why.
In lieu of a Social Media tip this week, I have more of a life tip. I promise, my story has a point.
My mom, Lynda Van Devanter, served as an Army nurse in the Vietnam War from 1969-1970. She left for war a young, naive, girl ready to serve her country. What she would see and experience would change her forever. The horrors of war affected her beyond her comprehension. She came home a very different woman.
For many years, she shut herself away afraid of facing the reality of her time in Vietnam. She was terrorized by nightmares, flashbacks, and couldn’t even watch fireworks for the longest time. She was haunted. Eventually, she channelled her emotions, her fears, and her anger into an incredibly honest, brutal, and life-changing memoir called Home Before Morning. One of the only war memoirs written from the perspective of a woman. After publishing her memoir, my mother continued to face challenges.
Many veterans, especially women veterans, were denied the support they needed and shunned by many members of society. She was spit on, called a baby killer, and ridiculed. Yet, despite the harsh criticism she received, she continued to fight for the rights of women veterans.
Suddenly in the fall of 1993, she became extremely ill due to her exposure to Agent Orange while in Vietnam. Essentially, her immune system was waiting for something to take it over. For ten years, she fought a disease that didn’t have a name, didn’t have an explanation, and didn’t have a cure – this battle went on about nine years longer than doctors had expected. Even through the toughest of times, she continued to speak about her experiences and lobby on behalf of women veterans. She was a revolutionary woman. She passed away November 15, 2002.
I learned everything I know from my mom. No matter what life threw at her, my mom always stayed positive, worked hard, and stood up for what she knew was right – even if it wasn’t the most popular stance. She was incredibly selfless, incredibly humble, and a brilliant woman. She left a lasting legacy and impacted thousands of people – many whom she never even met.
She was a hero and the person I have admired most in the world. I live my life every day with the hopes that I can live up to her legacy and hope to lead a life like hers.
I want to make a difference. I want to make an impact.
So, what is my tip this week? Make an impact. Leave a legacy. Are you living your life every day with the want, the desire, and the drive to serve others? It’s hard to think about sometimes and sounds almost cliche, but honestly, if you were to leave this world tomorrow, what kind of legacy would you be leaving?
Is there someone in your life that you look up to or admire? Take them out to lunch, dinner, coffee, or even send them a note. Thank them. Tell them why they’ve made an impact on your life.
I may not have served in the military, gone to war, or saved lives – but I have goals and I have vision. I get the most joy out of helping others and making people laugh, and I hope that I will be able to make an impact in some way doing what I love.
In addition, because it’s Veteran’s Day – if you know a Veteran or have someone in your life who has served in the military, Thank them. Tell them you are grateful for their service. Many of us would not be here today if it were not for their bravery.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read my mom’s story and listen to my thoughts today. I tend to get very reflective at this time of year.
I want to hear Your thoughts. Who in your life has left a legacy and made a lasting impact on you? Is there any mantra/motto/thought that you live by? Tell me your story.
Happy Veteran’s Day.