February 14th is celebrated the world over as Valentine’s Day. Over the years, we Indians too have been joining in the fervor for this Day.
This year too it will not be much different for the common man. The mannequins at the Garments’ shops at the Malls will be all decked up in red clothing. The popular eateries among the youth will have an ambience reflecting more of the red, supposedly associated with this Day.
A day, not for celebration but for mourning
Yet, there will be more than 40 families across India, for whom life took a drastic turn exactly on this day. 40 families where some lost a beloved son, a caring sibling, a loving spouse and a responsible father. While it is easy to say that time is the best healer, in some cases, it is not. Because some wounds cannot be healed and some losses cannot be made up for.
Having interacted with a family member of one of these families and also a few others who have lost their loved ones, I can say this with conviction that sometimes even after years, the loss is daunting. When I had written a piece after the heart wrenching incident at Pulwama, I had mentioned about being there for the families and helping them in some way. However, in a talk show that was held on a TV channel with regards to Armed Forces, in reply to a question as to what do the families of the Fallen soldiers need, someone associated with such families said that they need empathy and gratitude from their fellow countrymen and nothing else.
So what one may ask? Should the others stop celebrating Valentine’s Day too? Most certainly not, that is for an individual to decide. But how tough can it be to stop and remember those who gave up their lives for the Nation and their countrymen. Actually, it’s very easy. Let me tell you how :
Think of those who sacrificed their all
This is an age of Social Media. Much of the information that we need is now available at our finger tips. How many of us would have tried to check if there is a War Memorial for our brave hearts in our city? The official pages of Indian Armed Forces has this information to a certain extent. Also, there are other sites which also offer information on this. Although I cannot say with conviction that 100% information about all existing Memorials / Monuments is available, one will definitely find some information. While we do celebrate with our loved ones, can we find some time at least once in a year to go and visit such a memorial in our city or can we check if there is a memorial in any city that we are traveling to and pay a visit there.
National War Memorial in New Delhi
It is a well-known fact that a National War Memorial has been in place in New Delhi. For those of us, who are in and around Delhi, is it too much to ask to go and pay our tributes here? The entry to this Memorial is free. All that you spend is your time and the transportation to reach there.
Reach out to Veterans on Social Media
Most of our generation is now on Social Media platforms, be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the many more that I am unaware of. It is no surprise that there are a lot of Veterans who are active on social medial platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. It is easy to know them as their accounts have their Rank mentioned there. Is it too much trouble to just reach out to them and thank them for their services? Let me mention here, they are NOT craving for any attention. Yet, it would definitely mean a lot to them when fellow citizens reach out to them and interact with them.
Explore options like NCC for your kids
I for one, feel and have reasons to believe that Indian Armed Forces is an excellent fraternity. What can be learnt here is unparalleled to any other organization. True that it is not flawless. Like all other places, this one too has its shortcomings and there may be bad apples there as well. I don’t hold it as an epitome of perfection. Yet, I wouldn’t be wrong in saying that certain skills that are learnt here are unmatched elsewhere. Be it leadership skills, camaraderie among the men and their families or their sense of responsibility. I would have absolutely loved it if one of my kids would have been willing to serve in the Armed Forces. If not Armed Forces, then even a short stint in NCC would have been a huge difference to their sense of discipline and responsibility. Unfortunately, their school doesn’t have the facility of NCC. So for those of us who have that facility, it may be a good idea to opt for it and my guess would be that it would only be beneficial to the students and in no way detrimental.
Include Veterans in the Education System
For those of who are educators, can we try and arrange Veterans to be a part of our Celebrations / Career Counseling Seminars in schools? There are sessions done by our Armed Forces, where officers come in Uniform to address students about a career here. Maybe not in person anymore but at least virtually.
Lest We Forget
While we celebrate Love and benevolence with our loved ones, let us also try and remember those who have gone through hardships and made sacrifices for us and our Nation. Let’s keep them in our thoughts, prayers and do a bit for them. Let us tell them / their families that they matter and we appreciate their services. A quote of Rudyard Kipling seems apt here, ‘In times of war and not before, Gods and soldiers we adore. But in times of peace and all things righted, God is forgotten and the soldier slighted’.
While all of the above points may not be valid for Valentine’s Day in particular, reaching out to Veterans on Social Media could well be done.
After all, what’s the big deal of just living for yourself and your own, making ourself and our own happy? Try doing something for others just once. Believe me, it will be extremely fulfilling.
This article was originally published in Women’s Web: