American Flag

Our Great Country

325 million citizens have the very rare opportunity to live in the greatest country the world has ever seen. 18.5 million veterans have made that a possibility. Yes, my bias is proudly on display. Today, some 86% of millionaires reported that they are first time members in the millionaire club. In fact, in the US, first time millionaires now outnumber those who inherited their money.  We live in a country of steel workers, retail associates, board members and business owners, and everyone in between. We live with Native Americans, descendants of migrants, and first generation Americans. What a great place.

The 18.5 Million

Soldiers in the Field

Courtesy of U.S. Department of Defense

We also live with about 5.6% of the populous that hold a very special distinction. This distinction is imperceptible.  It’s a distinction of honor earned through service. This group of citizens are the 18.5 million veterans who have served our country in the Armed Forces and now live in our midst. An old adage says this nearly invisible group of people—at one point in their lives— wrote a blank check made payable to “The United States of America,” for an amount “up to and including their life.” This is leadership; this is courage; and this is service.

Veterans don’t serve their country for the money. In fact, according to the U.S. Army, soldiers in their first year make $19,198.80. They don’t do it for recognition. They don’t do it for comfortable sleeping arrangements or an apartment in Greenwich Village. And, trust me, they sure don’t do it for the food. Ever heard of Green Eggs and Ham? They serve both in the military.

Why Veterans Served


Taken at the 2011 New York Veteran’s Day Parade.

Our veterans serve for other reasons. Some do it for college money, some for adventure, some for legacy because their parents and grandparents served. Others serve because of an innate and unwavering feeling, a feeling of needing to do something for reasons that can’t be defined or explained.

Regardless of why they serve, 100% of them do it voluntarily. Gone are the days of the draft, and absent is the government requirement of mandatory service. Since January 27, 1973, the United States has enjoyed an all volunteer force. For nearly 45 years, every single veteran has joined the ranks without force, pressure, or coercion. Since 1973, each veteran has raised his or her right hand and repeated the same oath to, “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

November 11

Veteran’s Day is 1/365th of the year set aside specifically to honor and reflect on the service and sacrifices of the brave men and women who volunteered. I personally come from a family where military service is common and is always held in the highest regard. I am also fortunate to work for an organization that takes pride in producing great products right here in the United States.

So let’s honor this unique group of people known as veterans. Let us not forget them on this Veteran’s Day, and let us have a new perspective on the old axiom, “Freedom isn’t free.” Veterans insure our freedom. We live in this land of the free because of the brave.

Soldier saluting American Flag