I was born in the middle of February in an Army hospital in Alaska to a B-52 mechanic and a nurse. That mechanic knew his aircraft inside and out. He spent days and weeks away from his family as conflicts raged halfway across the globe. After a decade or so he left the service, but quickly realized that being a member of something so incredible was probably one of the best things that he ever did. So he joined the Air National Guard. A more hard-working airman I’ve never seen.
Then, my sister enlisted. She worked long, finger-numbing hours in the cold, carrying a weapon I never doubted she knew how to use to protect our nation’s assets. She stood vigilant; her creased uniform like a knife, her beret folded with precision. Just her tiny body and a giant gun stood between a multi-million dollar aircraft and potential danger. A sharper airman I’ve never seen.
Exactly 20 years from that cold day in Alaska, I met my own airman. That B-1 crew chief, son of an airman himself, kept the cleanest jet in the fleet. The air force supported his wish to start a family and to go to college. Then it even offered him new opportunities. With those opportunities came change. We had to move. And then move again. And again. And again. And again. From mountains to the sea, from castles to corn fields we went, making a home wherever we were told. Each was an adventure, with new people to meet, new languages to learn, new obstacles to overcome and new experiences to cherish. All the while, my airman stayed vigilant, watching over not only us, but you, too. A more dedicated airman I’ve never seen.
This being the only life they’ve known, undoubtedly our own children will consider answering the call of our nation someday. It’s a difficult path. Uncertainty stands at every turn and the only thing we are sure tomorrow will bring is change.
It doesn’t matter.
If this is the life they choose, I will stand proudly by them because a more noble tradition I’ve never seen.
Valor is stability, not of legs and arms,
but of courage and the soul.
~Michel de Montaigne