The following is an essay that won the Fallen Soldiers Scholarship at Elk Grove High School in 2010.
It is proudly written by Kendall Connolly.
Veterans of Foreign War
Most people understand that, on the surface, one is a veteran after one has served in the Armed Forces. Most people believe that once a soldier becomes a veteran, he hangs up his uniform, gun, and camelback and goes on with his life. Most people believe that a solder’s life stops after he leaves the army, and the soldier becomes a normal, everyday citizen. They assume that veterans are just as common and just as ordinary as anyone else in this country. That assumption is false. Veterans are not ordinary people – they’re extraordinary people.
Veterans are different from others not in the fact that they wore a uniform at one point, but in the fact that though their uniform is hanging in the closet, they still perform as if they still wore that uniform. In other words, a veteran never stops being a soldier. A veteran carries the values he learned in the armed forces – pride, honor, dignity, hard work, unity, and courage – and lives by them every day of his life. A veteran knows that these qualities are what makes any team successful. A veteran knows that through his hard work, he can help the greater good of the country. A veteran knows that by living with these qualities, he can do anything he sets out to do.
While normal people struggle with everyday problems and complain about the smallest aspects of their lives, veterans take these things in stride. How? It’s simple: they’ve been through things normal people can’t even imagine, and they’ve learned to fight through whatever comes their way. To veterans, everyday problems seem like a walk in the park. When life hands them big problems, though, they’re just as stoic, just as poised, just as steadfast as they are when they fight through the small problems.
That’s how veterans serve their community, their state, and their country. Veterans don’t live a “normal” life. To a veteran, life means so much more than getting by. To a veteran, life should be spent becoming everything one can be. To a veteran, life should be spent exemplifying what it is to be a soldier, what it is to be a citizen, and what it is to be an American.