Independence Day Celebration 2014

 Untitled design (24)We as a nation of independent and free people love our Independence Day celebration.  Every July 4th we have family cookouts, fireworks displays, and usually a day off for most of us.

Another small group of Americans celebrate the day in a different way.  These are our countrymen who have served our country in some form of Armed Forces service.  Only those of us who made this decision and came through the other side of this service understands what it means to put on the uniform and stand between anything, anyone, or any country that wants to harm our nation.  A squadron I served in had the motto “Any fight, any place, any time.”  And we meant it.

Some served for a tour of duty and left for other work at home.  Some served until they could not do so any more due to age, ability, injury, or death.  Some served until it was time to retire.  The one common thread between all of these service professionals is that they all started in the same place – they were all there to learn a job and to learn it well.  All were led by a commissioned or noncommissioned officer whose duty was to pass on the traditions, skills, and warrior mindset that has made this country what it is today.  It was the responsibility of these leaders to insure that those under them were trained to do their respective duties to the best of their abilities.  Sometimes this meant leading your soldiers, sailors, airmen, or marines into situations where some of them would not come out alive.  Sometimes it meant sacrificing your own safety for the accomplishment of the mission.  It always meant that the leaders above you were responsibility for passing on their knowledge and skills.

It is the ultimate responsibility of those who make a career of the military to pass back all knowledge, skills, mindset, and abilities to those who will come after us to continue the good fight.  We as warriors always know that our time and effectiveness to fight will decrease over the years.  Those who are able to make a career in the military do not do so because they are the best at what they do.  It is because they are the best at teaching others how to assume their roles and responsibilities, they are the best at bringing the best out of others, and they are the best at putting the interest of the country, people, and our nation’s freedom ahead of themselves.

When the time comes to change from military to civilian life it is done so quietly and without a lot of fanfare.  Old soldiers just fade away.  However, the respect for those who have gone before is never lost on those who now serve.  It is the highest honor to exchange salutes from an old warrior to a new one.  It is a passing of the tradition of service above self that only those who pledged their lives against all enemies foreign and domestic will ever truly understand.

The uniform may not be worn daily by those not in active service but it is never taken off. The oath of military service is for life, not just during your enlistment.  And the respect of those currently serving for those who have served never fades away.  It is the past service of those great Americans who answered the call which allows those who presently serve to still have a country to be called by.  Respect is earned and never goes away.

Thank you to all those who have served, are serving, and who will serve.  Yours is a very proud tradition that has its roots in service above self.

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