With the Air Force’s 70th birthday upon us, now is the time to reflect on our heritage and what it means to be an Airman.
It’s often easy to get caught up in the everyday grind of the job, but it’s important to take pride and ownership in what you do. In the beginning of my career, the Air Force was just my job, but it has since become the pride I feel every year on the Air Force birthday.
For me, the Air Force came to life one foggy afternoon, a little more than a decade ago, when a respected Chief told me about his Air Force. I had never thought about the Air Force as being “mine”, but I was convinced that the Air Force didn’t solely belong just to him. At the time, I viewed the Air Force as more of an employer, and I felt more in its grasp than it in mine. But as I started to question this belief, I started to realize I didn’t just belong to the Air Force, the Air Force and I were on a journey. A journey that I’m sure many of us have shared.
One of the best summaries of that journey was given to us by General Merrill McPeak when he said, “I suspect that many of us go through the same sort of process — a journey we take that has three milestones. At the first milestone, you join up — the Air Force is a job. So, you get some great training, you mature, you maintain high standards; you reach the second milestone — the Air Force as a profession. Then you begin to gradually recognize your own personal obligation to your comrades-in-arms, the responsibility we all have for protecting our country. This is the third milestone — when you see the Air Force as a calling, a vocation. At this stage, you are the organization; the Air Force and you have become one thing.”
Today, I’m the Chief telling you about my Air Force. Today you might feel more in the grasp of the Air Force than it in yours, and you might be wondering if the Air Force belongs to you. It does! And when the Air Force belongs to you, you will find it easier to love, and perhaps even forgive it. You will want to make it better, and you will feel called to serve the Air Force and those in it.