It’s a really beautiful sight when you see the American flag flying against the backdrop of a clear blue sky. It’s especially striking right now, during this warm stretch of fall weather as the leaves continue to change color and paint the earth in stunning shades of red, orange and yellow, to see the flag flying. 

I don’t stop and think enough, though, about what that flag really means. Freedom. Liberty. Justice. Honor. Bravery.

I also don’t stop and think enough about the brave men and women who have fought to protect our flag. 

The flag feels especially symbolic right now following the recent historic Presidential election.  It’s also symbolic because we are just days away from Veterans Day. 

This Wednesday, November 11, is Veterans Day, a federal holiday that honors all those who have served the country, in war or in peace, dead or alive. 

Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day, which commemorated the end of World War I on November 11, 1918. It’s evolved a bit since that day, but the reason behind Veterans Day has never changed. It’s a day to thank all members of all six branches of the armed forces: the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force and Coast Guard. 

Today our military is an all volunteer force that protects our security and our ways of life. Think about that – all volunteer force. Our veterans aren’t serving our nation because they have to. They’re serving our country because they want to. That’s pretty amazing. 

 Unless we have an immediate family member serving in the armed forces, we may not think about the sacrifices our military make on our behalf. Our veterans travel far from home, go through extensive, exhausting training, and in times of war and conflict, willingly put themselves in harms way on our behalf.  When you think of it that way, it puts into perspective how lucky we are and why Veterans Day is important.

Like so many things this year, Veterans Day 2020 will be different. There won’t be the big city parades and celebrations to honor our military. Hopefully we can personally carry on the tradition by thanking a veteran for his or her service. This could mean writing a letter, making a phone call or telling someone in person that you are grateful for them and their service. 

Here at Ashley’s Pastries, we’ll have freshly baked patriotic treats to help commemorate the occasion. Stop in to pick up some cookies to share with a veteran you know. Or perhaps pick up a treat to share with your family as a way to pause and express your gratitude for our military. 

After all, we are so very lucky that America is the land of the free because of the brave men and women who put their lives on the line to protect you and me. 

Thank you, veterans, for your bravery, your dedication, your sacrifice and your love of country. Today and always, we are grateful for you.