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Honoring Our Veterans

Passing Freedom on to the Next Generation!

Karen and Jay share their respect and gratitude in thanking our veterans for their wonderful service to our country and the critical importance of passing freedom on to this next generation of Americans.

As Ronald Reagan famously said, ‘Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.’

So, as we honor our veterans on this special national holiday, let’s take a moment to reflect – and deeply appreciate all that they have done to protect our precious freedom.

Across the United States, there are roughly 19 million Americans who have served our country. And of those 19 million, over 4 million have service-related disabilities. Both are staggering numbers that put the cost of our freedom into perspective. This weekend we are once again moved to do our civic duty and honor our veterans on Veterans Day. Unlike other national holidays like the 4th of July that provide more of a celebratory atmosphere, Veterans Day is a holiday that’s solemn and more humbling. It’s also a day that I believe demands reflection, about the courage and selflessness of those Americans who have put their lives at risk to defend what we hold dear.

Interestingly enough, Veterans Day is deliberately spelled the way it is, as opposed to Veteran’s Day, because the day is not meant to belong to veterans, but instead honor them, as declared by the Department of Veterans Affairs. This deliberate spelling is meant to call upon everyone of us to honor the sacrifices of each veteran and the more than one million Americans who have given their lives for this country.

Many soldiers and veterans don't see themselves as being brave or special, but instead as simply doing their duty. Yet, especially in today’s military, it’s important to remember as well that the majority of individuals who signed up to serve our nation have done so voluntarily. It’s this resolve and commitment to our nation that continues to give each of us something to continually aspire to, as well as be grateful for. As we recognize Veterans Day this year, it’s important to remember that the United States still stands as the beacon of hope and freedom around the world, and we owe our precious stature due to the selfless service of our veterans.

Flags of Valor: A Patriotic Company Through and Through!

Flags of Valor is a patriotic company based in Virginia and known for its commitment to veterans, as well as its handcrafted wooden American flags. The company was founded in 2015 by combat veteran and Special Operations pilot, Brian Steorts. After serving for fifteen years, and deploying nine times to points all over the world, and being injured in his last deployment, Brian turned to woodworking as a form of therapy. He also found himself missing the military and especially the American flag. So, he started creating wooden flags in his garage. It was therapeutic, but also rewarding as a way to give back to the veteran community. He was motivated by a mission - to create wooden flags to serve as a symbol of unity, strength, and honor while also supporting veterans and their families. He was soon thereafter joined by fellow Special Operations pilot, Joe Shamess, and they began to build a business.

Their purpose is twofold: to produce handcrafted, high-quality products such as wooden painted America flags, to celebrate our freedom and the values that unite us as well as to provide meaningful employment opportunities for veterans. Flags of Valor is committed to hiring and training veterans, and helping them transition to civilian life while continuing to serve their communities.

Flags of Valor quickly gained attention for its unique and beautifully crafted wooden flags. However, the company's approach stood out not only for the quality of their products but also for their steadfast commitment to what they call their fundamental beliefs: Made in America Matters, Veterans Deserve Opportunity, and Never Stop Giving Back. As of today, they have given over $1.7 in lifetime donations, delivered more than 100,000 flags and goods across the US all the while employing over 70 veterans.

Over the years, Flags of Valor expanded its product range to include various flag designs and custom pieces. Their customers range from individuals to large organizations such as UPS, Verizon, Jeep, Under Armour and the US Air Force. They've also established the "Flags for Heroes'' program to donate flags to veterans' organizations and charities.

Importantly, the company has also designed and produces a very cool product for kids – a wooden flag building kit – that can be a really fun (non-digital) experience for the whole family. The kit is very affordable and comes with a booklet that not only teaches kids how to build the flags, but also contains valuable lessons about America – about our history, our values and all those critical aspects of our country that they likely are not being taught in school and may or may not be learning at home! Definitely, please check out this great, high impact product– and get one or more for the kids and families you know.

The company's dedication to veterans and its high-quality craftsmanship has made Flags of Valor a respected and recognized brand in the United States, with their flags proudly displayed in homes, businesses, and government institutions across the country. Please visit: to learn more.

Thank You for Your Service!

Jon Morton, a member of the Sunshine Initiative and a veteran, had this to say as we approach Veterans Day. In 1980, 18 percent of American adults were military veterans. Today, that number is closer to approximately 7 percent. The importance of these individuals and the debt of gratitude we all owe to them, however, cannot be measured or overstated. Thankfully, there are several great organizations throughout New Hampshire and in other states that serve those who served. Hero Pups in Stratham, NH, trains rescue dogs to be therapy companions for veterans. They can be reached at or by calling 603-397-7444.

Homeland Heroes and Swim with a Mission both coordinate significant fundraising efforts and support numerous philanthropic non-profit organizations for veterans.

Another group that you might not think of at first, but is a significant supporter of veterans' services, is the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks. Known by most people as the Elks Lodge, their volunteers provide direct services in hundreds of different facilities every month. In 2020-2021, the total value of Elks' support for veterans, including their time, energy, and financial resources, was $35 million nationwide.

There are numerous other organizations such as Operation Delta Dog, Liberty House, and Veterans Count. Altogether, there are more than 239 military and veteran organizations in the State of New Hampshire, alone.

The Veterans FIRST program, managed by Harbor Care, addresses suicide, homelessness, transitional housing, employment, and more. With this comprehensive approach, Harbor Care is one of the top non-governmental resources available. They can be reached at or by calling 603-882-3616.

From personal experience, having served on the board of one of these non-profits in their early years, volunteering is not a one-way street. No matter how much time, effort, or money I gave to help others, I always received so much more in return. It wouldn't matter if I tried to stay behind the scenes and avoid recognition; it was always there. A heartfelt thank you from someone whose life I had touched in a positive way meant more to me than a wall full of awards or public honor. As a veteran myself, who had served overseas but not in a combat area, I simply wanted to get involved and help those who gave a little more than I had. Whether you are a veteran, have a friend or family member who has served or is serving, or not, reach out to one of these amazing organizations and ask if they have any volunteer opportunities. Just be forewarned... you will get far more out of the experience than you could ever give.

On this Veteran's Day, we at the Sunshine Initiative would like to thank all veterans and their families for their service and sacrifices. You are much appreciated!

Profile of the Week: Monuments and Memories

This week, we are delighted to highlight as our Profile of the Week, our precious monuments that pay tribute to veterans. In nearly every town common, park, or center of town in New Hampshire, monuments are dedicated to those who served in America’s wars. These monuments recognize the sacrifices of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and those who served in the wars. You can find them listed at – the Historical Marker Database for New Hampshire.

It was after the Civil War that a number of memorials and parks were established in New Hampshire to honor the veterans of the war—locations such as the Veterans’ Association Campground at Weirs Beach.

In 1878, Manchester created a monument in Veterans’ Park to commemorate those who served in the Civil War. The monument has an inscription that states, "In honor of the men of Manchester who gave their service in the war which saved the Union and secured equal rights for all under the Constitution." However, there is one notable soldier that the park is dedicated to, beyond the Civil War, and that is Private First Class Rene A Gagnon. Rene A Gagnon was fighting with the United States Marine Corps on Iwo Jima. He was one of 6 men who took part in the most memorable flag raising in United States History.

In Plainfield, a monument with all the names of the service members who served in the First World War keeps alive the memory of those who served overseas.

The New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen was established in 1997, and is a place of reverence and remembrance for the state's military heroes. The centerpiece of this sacred site is the Veterans Memorial Plaza, a moving tribute to the courage and sacrifices of all veterans. It features a stunning array of statues and plaques, creating a serene space for reflection and gratitude.

The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch, built in 1892, stands at the eastern end of the State House grounds in honor of Concord’s Civil War veterans. It is constructed of granite, measuring 33.5 feet high and 53 feet in width. It was designed by the prominent Boston architectural firm of Peabody and Stearns and features symbolic elements such as wreaths and shields, all topped by a Gatling gun. Just below the gun is the year 1892, and beneath the cornice is the inscription: "To the memory of her soldiers and sailors, the city of Concord builds this monument."

The USS Albacore Museum and Park in Portsmouth celebrates the remarkable service of the USS Albacore, a submarine that played vital roles during World War II and the Cold War. The monument offers visitors the chance to explore the submarine and learn about its contributions to national defense, making it an educational and inspirational site.

This Veterans Day, organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion are honoring those who have served with services and lunches. Even if you can't attend those events, please take a moment, go to one of these monuments and pay tribute to those who have given so very much to defend our great nation and preserve our precious freedom.

Quotes of the Week: Honoring our Veterans

"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation." - George Washington

"The willingness of America's veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude." - Jeff Miller

"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations." - Woodrow Wilson

"The hero is the man dedicated to the creation and/or defense of reality-conforming, life-promoting values." - Andrew Bernstein

"This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave." - Elmer Davis

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." - John F. Kennedy

1 Comment

Asjad Iqbal
Asjad Iqbal
Nov 12, 2023

Somehow I am getting conflicting narratives on the internet. Some appreciate veterans, but there are reports that there is a high suicide rate among veterans. There are reports of homeless among veterans, this while there are many vacant houses in many states or areas.

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