Veterans Day is intended to be a day in which we honor those who have sacrificed in order to defend our country. Alex Sohn is one of the many student veterans we have on the Mount’s campus.
Sohn grew up a Midwestern kid who had an extensive family background of U.S. service men and women. For him, it was a badge of honor to be able to say that so much of his family had been in the military. And when it came to Veterans Day, it was the perfect time of the year for Sohn to talk about, and honor his family.
Many high schools in this part of the country celebrate Veterans Day by bringing in local veterans to either speak to classes, or just to show the school’s recognition of their efforts. Sohn’s school was no exception. Because so much of his family is like these men and women, Sohn believed that Veterans Day was a sacred day that also gave him the chance to “brag about” his amazing family.
When it was time for Sohn to go to college, he chose the College of Mount St. Joseph. He enrolled as a history major and hoped that the Mount would help him figure out what exactly he would like to do with his life. But Sohn did not do as well in his classes as he had originally hoped, and he needed to make a change.
It was around this time that he talked to a family member who was actively serving in the U.S. Coast Guard in Florida. The job description interested Sohn and he decided to give it shot.
“I figured being stationed in Florida on a nice sunny beach wouldn’t be too bad,” he says.
After passing all of his tests, and getting through basic training in Cape May, Sohn found himself deployed. But he wasn’t in Florida. Instead, he was shipped out to Alaska.
Despite the bitter cold, serving in the Coast Guard was exactly what Sohn needed in life. Through his eight years of service, he received money to pay for college, money for housing, and the disciplinary skills that he picked up from being deployed. Upon leaving the Coast Guard and returning home, Sohn decided to go back to college at Mount St. Joseph University.
This time, enrolled as a Liberal Arts major, and armed with what he had learned over the past eight years, Sohn was ready to take on any challenge. Two years later, he is now set to graduate this December with distinction. He attributes his success to the Coast Guard shaping him into the person he is today. Sohn maintains straight A's while having a full-time job that involves traveling around the country, and he has a wife and two kids at home.
After service for eight years, Sohn looks back on when he was younger and realizes how different Veterans Day has become for him. Things have changed not simply because he is the one of the people being honored, but because being in active duty gave him a new perspective on the day we set aside to honor the men and women who have served. Sohn doesn’t think of it as a “sacred” day as he once did.
“After serving, I now understand that it is people’s right to, for example, kneel during the National Anthem,” Sohn says, “People join the armed services to protect these rights, not just to be honored like superheroes.”
Additionally, he would like to see Veterans Day become more of a day about showing gratitude. There are many things we can do to give back to the men and women who have served. So on Nov. 11, think about how we show our appreciation to our veterans, many of whom are enrolled on our campus. There is still a lot of work to do both inside and outside the military to help our service men and women.