When I was 18, I volunteered to serve in the United States Air Force. Wearing that uniform for nearly five years was both a privilege and an honor. That experience allowed me to accomplish a major goal in my life that I had always had since childhood: to begin repaying this country for its generosity and the opportunity it offers to those who work hard and respect its laws.
When my family and I arrived from Cuba on a “flight freedom” in 1962, and as the years went by, I realized how great, majestic and fair America is. It’s a country that welcomed my family and many like us and laid out the red carpet with countless opportunities for all children, including those of immigrants, to succeed and progress.
I believe we all owe this country so much, whether we were born here or not. All of us must keep the flames of freedom, democracy and justice for all burning. We should always remember what it means to be an American and appreciate the benefits of living in America.
This year’s Veterans Day is a special reminder about how important the troops’ service is for us. Less than one percent of the population serves today. Most of us don’t know anyone serving in our military. It used to be that we all knew someone in the military — the son or daughter of a friend, relative, coworker or even our own children. During the past few years, I’ve interviewed high school students for our military academies and have spoken to hundreds of troops. Just like when I served, these young men and women could be doing anything else. I’m amazed and moved by them.
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As we see our troops, let’s thank them for their service, welcome them home, and support them when they return from being deployed. And, let’s also remember their families here at home.
Let’s remember why they serve: for you and for me.
Alex Sanchez, president and CEO, Florida Bankers