Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trista Matascastillo - The Stories Behind Veterans Day

Trista Matascastillo is a Veteran of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Army. She is currently the Strategic Partnerships Officer for the Minnesota Humanities Center and a 2016 Bush Fellow.

Each year on Veterans Day, we pause and reflect on events that have shaped our history. We often look back over a distinct list of historical events that trigger memories about times, places, and people. As a country, we engage in conversations about wars and talk about honoring our heroes in a way that makes them seem like super-humans, capable of unimaginable feats. We wave flags, tie yellow ribbons, and sing patriotic songs. It makes us feel good about doing our part in society to support those we depend on to defend our way of life.

Often left out of the conversation are personal stories of our Veterans and their families that aren’t included in the history books or taught in classrooms. As a Veteran myself, I can tell you that our stories aren’t highlights captured on a timeline, but are instead a blend of experiences, both good and bad, that form our memories and shape who we are as humans and how we engage with and in the world.

Veterans come from a wide variety of backgrounds, belief systems, and identities. Although we experience our military service as part of a large, collective unit, our memories form very personal narratives.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s 2016 Veterans Day message lays out a chronological history of conflicts and honors those still serving, and he says that “…on this day, and every day, we should celebrate each generation by telling their stories.” I would go one step further and suggest that you take time to listen to a Veteran sharing his or her personal stories. Alternatively, you could engage in a conversation with one or more Veterans about their experiences and who they are as people. You could attend a Veterans theater production and listen to or watch a Veteran perform. You could read a memoir, story, or poem written by a Veteran. In doing some or all of these things you will be better able to connect with, understand, and celebrate Veterans through our shared humanity.

You can check out an upcoming Humanities Center Veterans’ Voices event and resources on our website at

No comments:

Post a Comment