Thoughts On Veterans Day From A Non-Veteran

“To me, Veterans Day is about freedom, reflection, and honoring those that make the sacrifice required to allow for my freedom.”

— Chris Key, Huntsville Utilities Accounts Supervisor

By COL (RET) John Olshefski
Senior VP of Customer Care
Huntsville Utilities

Recently, a friend and publisher of this awesome magazine – Bob Druckman, asked if I would share my thoughts about Veterans Day and what it means to be a veteran.

After spending 27 years in the US Army, retiring as a Colonel, I thought about that for a second. “Does it really matter what I think about being a veteran, I asked myself?” No one goes into the armed services for themselves. The men and women, past and present, of the US Armed Services serve because of a calling, a sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves. Protecting the freedom of our country and protecting those around the world that cannot protect themselves? For those of us who have served, we know what being a veteran means, but what does it mean to the people whom we served. So instead of giving my thoughts on being a veteran, I thought it would be more telling to get the thoughts of a non-veteran. How do they view veteran’s day, just another day off from work, or something deeper?

I decided to ask Chris Key, my Key Accounts Supervisor at Huntsville Utilities, if he would share his thoughts. I simply asked, “Tell me what you think about Veterans Day?”  The following was his thoughts:

“I’ve never served in the military; I’ve never been asked to go across the world and fight and die for someone I don’t know. I’ve never been asked to run towards danger when everyone else runs away from it. I’ve never been asked to be away from my family to protect a country most people cannot find on a map. But without all the people who have served over the past two centuries, I would not have the opportunity to be free. I wouldn’t be able to voice my opinion, have any job I want, complain about the stupidest most trivial inconveniences, first-world problems. Without veterans, past, present, and future, I couldn’t live in the greatest country in the world. Countless men and women have fought, struggled, and even died for a guy they have never met. I can never pretend to understand what makes a person like that tick, but I can honor and respect that person. To me, veterans’ day is about freedom, reflection, and honoring those that make the sacrifice required to allow for my freedom”.

Reading these thoughts from Chris Key highlights to me the true meaning of being a veteran. Being a veteran means that we know we have made the sacrifices to allow for our freedom and the freedom of all Americans. It doesn’t matter whether I agree or disagree with my fellow American, what matters is we can be individuals and safely express our thoughts and opinions. This Veterans Day I hope we can all remember and honor the sacrifices that our fellow brothers and sisters have made. Maybe for one day, we can put politics and differences aside and all be united as Americans living in the greatest country in the world.

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