Friday, January 23, 2009

Commentary>>So that others might sleep safely

By Col. Chris Hair
19th Maintenance Group commander

The people I work with got me the other day. They scheduled my boss to come in and present my medal from my last duty station. I didn’t find out until the day before and I grumbled a little bit. I’m sure many of you have done the same. Just then, the chief’s voice boomed out of his office, “It’s not for you, sir. It is for your family and the troops!” Ouch, I winced. Of course, he was right and I had said the exact same thing to many people over the years—often over a retirement or a promotion ceremony. Similarly, I am sure that you have had people approach you and thank you when you happen to be out in public in uniform or if they just find out you are in the Air Force. I am also sure that you, like me, were usually a little embarrassed by the attention and reply with something like, “I’m just doing my job, sir.”

While humility is appropriate, we must never allow ourselves to forget that belonging to the United States Armed Forces is different and unique. The manner in which we wear the uniform and uphold our customs and traditions honors those who have gone before us and those who are making sacrifices this very day. The simple ceremonies that we follow such as retreat are rooted in traditions passed down through the years. We will observe another traditional ceremony very soon – the change of command for the 19th Airlift Wing. As is often read during change-of-command ceremonies, the tradition passes down to us from the time when soldiers followed their unit’s flag into battle. The change of command provided them the opportunity to see their commander take hold of that flag as the one who would lead them into battle.

There will be many preparations in the coming week for the wing’s change-of-command ceremony. Many of you will have the opportunity to participate in the formation. If you do, remember that you stand for all of us in this time when our nation is at war as the flag is passed

George Orwell once said: “We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would harm us.”


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