In my life I have never been deemed “non-essential”.  Not once as a military veteran, 20+ year police officer, husband, father, son, or brother, have I been ordered to stay home due to danger, uncertainty, and to trust that others are looking out for me and my family.

As a small business owner ordered to close with no input, representation or even a date we could start earning a living again, I have never felt less control of my own life.

So, this week as we start to move back to normalcy, many of us “non-essentials” are returning to work, re-opening our businesses, and bringing communities back to life.   As we welcome in our customers that we have not seen in six weeks, we are consistently greeted with emotions and words letting us know that what we provide them is most definitely essential.

I hope as citizens we have learned to be especially cautious of a future in which our government gets to decide which businesses are essential and which ones are not.  Which businesses and industries get to serve customers, continue to earn a living, remain in business and which ones will face the grim reality of never reopening.

As Americans and free citizens, we have the right to determine what is essential in our lives.  If we want to go to the gym, eat dinner at our favorite restaurant, or have a cup of coffee in a locally owned tea or coffee shop, we have the right to decide that for ourselves.

Every business is essential to those they employ, the families that own them and the customers and communities that depend on them.

Never again will I be “non-essential”.