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Congresswoman Dingell says she is inspired by the men & women who served the US on this Veterans Day

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12th District Congresswoman Debbie Dingell says she is inspired everyday by the men and women who fought to keep us free and believes Veterans Day is a time to salute them for their courage and bravery.

She talks with WEMU's Lisa Barry about her concerns about our democracy and why it's important not to take that for granted and suggests we thank a vet and share an act of kindness.


Lisa Barry: It's been nearly 70 years since what we now call Veterans Day is observed in honor of those who have served in the U.S. military, which, before that, was known as Armistice Day. This is Lisa Barry, and a local congresswoman and her late husband are champions of U.S. veterans, so it's an important day for 12th District Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, who joins us now in 89-1 WEMU Thanks for talking to us, Congresswoman. 

Debbie Dingell
Credit Ryan Garza / Detroit Free Press
Detroit Free Press
John and Debbie Dingell

Debbie Dingell: This week's a really important week, and I spend a lot of time with men and women who love our country, so I'm honored to be with you to talk about them. 

Lisa Barry: Of course, the VA Center in Detroit is named after your late husband, John Dingell, the John Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit. You're very active at the VA Medical Center in Ann Arbor as well, so tell us. What does this day mean to you? 

Debbie Dingell: You know, it's a day that we celebrate the men and women who have fought to keep us free, who love this country, know what that's, like, stands for. I hate all the labels that we see today. The men and women have that love us, love this country, have made them Americans. And they know what this country stands for. And I'm so grateful to them for what they have done and what they still do every day. And it's our time to salute them for their courage, their bravery, their willingness to make sure all of us are okay. 

Lisa Barry: Do we even know what our country stands for anymore with all that's been going on lately? 

Debbie Dingell: You know, I'm going into this Veterans Day very concerned about our democracy and that there are people that are trying to destroy the fundamental roots of it. But when I'm with these men and women who, you know, they're people. There still a few that I know that served in World War Two. John, my husband, was a World War Two vet. But you talk to those Vietnam vets. They're incredible men and women. The women were nurses, MASH unit, and they got treated terribly when they came back to this country. Yet, they still love this country. They inspire me every day. And I think, you know, there have been so many wars, too many wars, since then. But our country, as we've watched, I mean, quite frankly, many of us horrified in those last days of Afghanistan. We remembered the bravery and the courage and the strength of these men and women. And while it's been a complicated time, our country has had complicated feelings. They inspire each of us every single day by their actions and what they've done. 

Lisa Barry: What can we do to show our support on this Veterans Day? 

Debbie Dingell: Well, first of all, if you know a veteran, just say thank you. And, but we also, I think, we need to use this Veterans Day to not to take our democracy for granted. To look at that flag and remember all that it stands for, to remember. If you just want to, you know, feel good about who we are in our country, go sit down and talk to a veteran. Some of them are pretty lonely. Some of them are feeling pretty isolated. The men that fought in World War Two, I was blessed to know so many of them, never talked about what really happened over there. You talk to the men and women that served in Vietnam. The horrific stories from there and how they were treated when they came back home, and the Vietnam Wall is traveling around Michigan right now. I've been at several ceremonies that will be in Ann Arbor,--or is in Ann Arbor now, Concordia--this week. If you want to do something to really do something special, go over there and visit the wall. Talk to a few of those veterans. But there are a lot of people that are still suffering from post-traumatic stress. We need to help them. We need to make sure that they've got a home and that they can get health care and that they can eat. We need to help them find jobs, and we just need to let them know they're not alone. Be there with a listening ear, a hug, a little compassion, an act of kindness. 

Lisa Barry: It seems like kindness, compassion, connection, and conversation could be the solution to a lot of situations in our country right now. 

Debbie Dingell: You know, it's been a really rough couple of years, and I lost another very good friend, Colin Powell, who had been my friend for 40 years. And Colin had 13 rules that he would share with almost anybody who would listen to him. But one of his biggest rules was being kind to one another and what an act of kindness could do. And I'm very focused on this Veterans Day of reinforcing what he told to so many that would just just be nice to somebody else. And the impact that that can have for so many. 

Lisa Barry: We hear it every year, thank of that, but let's thank them with meaning this year, perhaps. 

Debbie Dingell: With a lot of meaning. And, you know, that act of kindness, you don't know who's had a bad day. You don't know who's just scared or feeling alone in even that grump or that person that's just really short or snapping at you. It's because something's bothering them, or they're hurt, or they're scared. Just showing somebody you care really can make a difference.

Lisa Barry: 12th District Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this Veterans Day with us here on eighty nine one WEMU. 

Debbie Dingell: Thank you, Lisa, and thank you to the men and women who have made sure that we are all safe. 

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu

Lisa Barry was a reporter, and host of All Things Considered on 89.1 WEMU.
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