Yesterday was Veterans Day and I was surprised at what a marketing holiday it has become.  I have a friend who spent much of the day taking advantage of his free breakfast, free lunch, free car wash, free haircut and free dinner.  So many options and so little time!

Not that he, and all others who have served, did not earn these benefits.  They most certainly did. It’s just that I don’t remember Veterans Day taking on a life of its own until recently.  Now there are special sections in the newspaper listing all of the veterans celebrations and benefits.  Over 1000 people in our small city attended a veteran’s service.  There were dozens of businesses that offered free meals.

And it isn’t just on Veterans Day.  More and more businesses give military discounts all year round.  The military ID has become as valuable as a AAA card in providing on-going perks and bargains.

It seemed that many places were offering veterans promotions as a marketing tactic, rather than truly as a gesture of appreciation.  Those that went the extra step earned reciprocal appreciation by genuinely giving it.  (As an example, Texas Roadhouse’s attentive service, generous meals including steaks and beer, and special hours just for this luncheon went a long way in making a statement to the vets.)

If you are going to jump on the Veterans Day bandwagon next year, make it an authentic celebration, not just a discount with business as usual otherwise.  True gestures, rather than gimmicks, are the only efforts worth saluting.

— beth triplett

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