Chris Kolenda: The best way to interact with veterans this weekend

The best way to interact with veterans this weekend

It’s Memorial Day weekend, and there’s a high probability that you will encounter veterans and Gold Star family members.

Here are some great ways to interact.

As you know, Memorial Day honors service members who died serving our country, while Veterans Day (in November) recognizes those who served in America’s armed forces.

The small size of the U.S. military and the lack of a mandatory service obligation result in few Americans having a shared military experience with veterans or current service members. 

Wanting to be sensitive and often not knowing what to say, people tend to say, “Thank you for your service,” and go their separate ways. 

There’s nothing wrong with that, but you both are missing an opportunity to build bridges that bring people closer together.

Here are some questions you can ask veterans:

  • Tell me more about your service (what you did, where did you serve?).
  • What did you like the most about the military?
  • Are you remembering anyone in particular this Memorial Day? 
  • Please tell me about them.

You can ask a similar question to Gold Star family members:

  • Tell me more about your [son, daughter, mom, dad, brother, sister]

Most veterans and Gold Star families will appreciate your genuine interest. They’ll get to tell you some of their own story and that of someone they are remembering this weekend.

I’m remembering the six cavalry paratroopers from our unit killed in action in 2007: 

I’ve made a short video about each of them, which you can access at the link in each name.

I hope you have a joyful weekend commemorating those who gave their lives to protect our liberty and pursuit of happiness.

The 1700-mile Fallen Honor Ride mentioned in these videos started the Saber Six Foundation, which helps veterans create an ever-better future through programs that strengthen Purpose, Belonging, and Well-being. 

Go to for more information. 

About Author