Mariner Kemper, chairman, president and CEO of UMB Financial Corporation, shares his thoughts on what it means to honor our nation’s heroes.

I was recently asked, “If you could choose to live during another period in time, when would it be?” I immediately said the World War II era, which may seem surprising, but here’s why I chose that time. Countries and individuals overlooked their own agendas and emotions for the good of the whole—the world truly united to defeat a common enemy, and in doing so, changed the course of history forever. And, in my opinion, those who banded together during that turbulent time set the standard for values and actions we should all strive for today.

While it was certainly a worldwide effort, the people who exemplified that dedication, set aside differences, and put their own lives on the line were our military heroes. Now in their 90s or older, approximately 240,000 of the 16 million Americans who served are still with us today.

As we approach Veterans Day, it strikes me that we are coming to the end of an era—an era of learning from those who lived and served through that point in history and moved us all forward with their commitment to mutual respect, shared compromise and constructive discourse. They, and all veterans, are the definitive example of coming together for the common good.

And that leads me to ask, how do we find our way back to that approach of cooperation, civility and alliance—to the example our veterans have and continue to set? While the answer may be complex, my thought is to start with challenging ourselves.

Let’s think of others and how we can help them. Let’s be thankful for who and what we have. Like our veterans, let’s selflessly extend service to one another.

Pay it forward, send a thank-you note, check in with a friend, do a random act of kindness. In a time when we all need some healing, let’s do what we can to create it ourselves. Small actions can lead to big outcomes.

My goal this Veterans Day is to find ways to serve others in honor of those who serve us every day. I hope you will join me in this effort.

To veterans everywhere: thank you for your service and the example you set for all of us.

UMB is proud to hire veterans in our local communities. The Veterans Engagement Taskforce (VET BRG) offers engagement opportunities for UMB associates who are Veterans, military family members, or passionate about Veteran support.

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