Last October, at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, I found myself in an Uber with Dennis Hock, Owner and Brewer at Strange Roots Experimental Ales. Hock and I are both from Pittsburgh, and we shared a camaraderie born from a mutual love of beer and the Steel City. 

At 6 feet and many inches, Hock is best described as “burly,” and not someone against whom you call shotgun.  I climbed into the back and listened as he spoke with the driver.

From their conversation, I realized that both Hock and the driver were veterans. It wasn’t something I would’ve known from looking at either of them. In my conversations with Hock, his service had never come up. I was struck by the notion that someone could fight for my freedom, and I could walk past them in the street and never know it.

The men and women who risk their lives in defense of our country are heroes. The United States may not have everything figured out, but the fact that I can write this letter without fear of reprisal is more than can be said for much of the world. For that privilege, among many others, I have people like Dennis to thank. 

As Memorial Day approaches, I want to give a special shoutout to Dennis, and to Dave Weiland, Hop Culture’s former social media manager and a veteran of the United States Navy; to Lee Cleghorn, co-founder of Outer Range Brewing a Green Beret; and anyone else in the industry who has served in defense of our country. I also want to recognize those who have served and fallen. 

My sincerest wish is that the world can set aside differences and come together in pursuit of a common, mutually productive goal, preferably over a few beers. Until then, I recognize the value of our armed forces, and thank those who have provided our freedoms with their service.