Recently, a diversity leader wrote to tell us that her team includes Veterans Day in her company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) celebrations. Veterans Day is an opportunity for her company to honor mental health and disability. Indeed it is the nation’s day to reflect on the sacrifices our soldiers have made in service to the country. However, mental health and disability are only a part of the link between diversity, equity, inclusion, and Veterans Day.
Certainly, we must acknowledge and show respect for those who bear both visible and invisible battle wounds and scars. By law, we must accommodate disability in our company’s practices. But, even beyond the law, it is our obligation to educate ourselves on how this should be done. It is ethical, moral, and humane to know how to include, support, and care for those who have cared for us through their military service.
But there’s much more to think about and acknowledge as we reflect on DEI and Veterans Day. Veterans Day means a lot of things to many people – maybe more so than any other holiday as our nation’s military history and soldiers’ involvement have touched many lives in so many different ways.
Take my family as an example. As I reflect on Veterans day, I have to reflect on my origin story. I was born in Korea while my dad was stationed there during the Vietnam war. My dad is a Portuguese immigrant who enlisted in the US army. While he was in Korea, he met my mother, a Korean woman, and I was born. My parents divorced and later my mother remarried a Black American veteran. Unfortunately, my stepdad passed away last year. During the service, a woman soldier played Taps, the US military’s soulful and heart-wrenching Song of Remembrance on the bugle.
As I honor Veterans Day, I honor the way that US military service has created a new kind of American heritage for me and my family. I am a Portuguese, Korean, Mixed-race American immigrant with Black American family members.
Left to right, my stepdad Marcel Myers, my mom, born Kyong Nan Kang, me, Leann DaSilva Kang Teresa Pereira, and my dad, Rui Pereira.
The “imprints” of service will remain with many of our service members and their families forever in a myriad of ways. On this Veteran’s day, I invite you to celebrate with me the value, complexity, and rich diversity that characterizes how our American military touches our lives.
Learn more about important holidays and remembrance days that your organization can celebrate by downloading our guide on Navigating DEI Heritage Months.