Giving Thanks

By James Dimos

I think it is particularly fitting that this November draws to a close with the celebration of Thanksgiving.  This month contained two notable milestones that highlighted the true need for giving thanks.

The first was Veterans Day. First recognized on Nov. 11, 1919, as Armistice Day to honor veterans of World War I, it became a legal holiday in 1938 and in 1954 became known as Veterans Day to recognizing all veterans. Eight days later, Nov. 19, the second milestone appeared on the horizon—the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. Given in 1863 at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery in Gettysburg Pennsylvania, the ten-sentence speech is considered by many (myself included) to be one of the best speeches ever given. In his closing sentences, Lincoln reminds the audience:

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

For its small part, the ISBA attempts to show support for our veterans through the Military & Veterans’ Affairs Committee. The Committee has three main priorities:

Explore & Identify: Legal issues and needs of service members (active duty, Guard or Reserve) living in Indiana or stationed and deployed outside Indiana; resources and programs currently available to assist service members and veterans with those needs; the needs of lawyers assisting service members; opportunities to coordinate with members of the bar and assist clients to address a broad range of current and future legal needs and issues involving military or veterans affairs

Empower & Assist: Continue the Lawyers for Soldiers Program providing pro bono legal assistance to service members, veterans and their families; assemble resources provided by other organizations (ABA, military and veterans’ agencies and organizations) and make available to volunteer lawyers, service members and veterans

Expansion & Outreach: Develop a network of ISBA members (judges, JAGs and lawyers) interested in military and veterans’ issues and assistance; educate ISBA members; engage and recognize volunteer lawyers; maintain contact with JAG lawyers from Indiana and assist military lawyers returning to Indiana following service with transition to civilian practice; foster unity among members of the bar interested in issues affecting veterans and service members; provide forum for members of the bar and military lawyers to interact socially and professionally

The Military & Veterans’ Affairs Committee administers the Indiana Lawyers for Soldiers website, http://www.inlawyersforsoldiers.com. Indiana Lawyers for Soldiers is a statewide network of volunteer attorneys providing legal services for Indiana National Guard personnel who are deployed or returning from a deployment. Soldiers in need of legal assistance are referred to attorneys who volunteer their time and experience to assist the myriad of legal issues that arise during the deployment of these local heroes.

These two milestones, so close together, provide us an opportunity for all of us to pause and reflect on the sacrifice of the women and men of our armed forces for the dedication, service and sacrifice on behalf of our country and all of us. If you would like to help with the efforts of our Military & Veterans’ Affairs Committee, click on the website above and sign up to help.  Otherwise, as you settle in for a long weekend of food, family, football and fun, take a moment to remember those who have given the utmost sacrifice to protect our nation and say thanks to those who served.

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