Another Veterans Day is upon us, and I have some thoughts for you about veterans and heroes.

When I was a child, if there wasn’t a veteran in your house, the next-door neighbor probably was. They were everywhere. These days, less than 7% of our population are military veterans.

My favorite definition of a veteran is someone who, at some point in their life, signed a check payable to the government of the United States, for an amount up to – and including – my life. It doesn’t matter what branch, and it doesn’t matter when-we all signed the same check. Veterans are the ones who didn’t have that check cashed.

Now, I’m a submarine veteran. I do have a special affinity for other Boat Sailors, but what’s more important to me is simply this: you served. I’ll still enjoy your company, and I’ll happily buy you a beer.

Now about heroes. I know some heroes. I have never met one, however, who was comfortable with that term. That’s what the eulogist says at your funeral when they run out of other things to say – It’s not good. To a person, they may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, but they were doing what they signed up to do, and they didn’t waver. They were serving.

Some statistics for you – Less than 1% of our total population are active military these days. One percent. Now I suppose if you throw in police officers, firefighters, and all of the other first responders who have taken an oath to put someone else’s wellbeing in front of their own, that number may swell to 3%. Three percent-protecting the other 97% of us.

This Veterans Day, I hope you’ll pause for a moment and reflect on what these selfless men and women do for us every day. Day in and day out.

Maybe even thank someone for their service. Or buy them a beer.

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