What it means to serve: A holiday reflection

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

Every year, as my family and I prepare for the holiday season, I find myself reflecting on the things that I’m thankful for. Sometimes I’m able to accomplish this reflection with greater clarity than others, but nevertheless, I try to really think about the things that matter the most in my life.

As you can probably imagine, at the top of my list of things that matter are the wonderful families that I have been blessed with. That’s right, I said families (plural). Clearly, my own family is the most important thing in my life. Everything I do (almost everything) is for my own wife, children and how we choose to live. A close second; however, is my much bigger extended family, my Air force family. As I reflect this year, it is very clear to me that I can’t have one without the other.

As Americans, we are blessed to have the opportunity to choose how we want to live our lives. The way we choose to live…think about that for a minute. How fortunate we truly are! That is made possible, in part, because of the second family I spoke of, the Air Force family. Every single Airman made a choice to serve this nation; every Airman is a volunteer! By raising right-hands and taking an oath to support and defend our constitution, Airman have become part of something bigger than themselves, and more importantly, have sworn to defend freedom and choice.

As such, our service, yours, mine, and all of our Airmen, is the sincerest form of gratitude any of us can muster in order to give back our country. Ironically, the very nature of service to the nation includes sacrificing some individual liberty, but allows all Americans to enjoy freedom and choice. Personally, my family and I chose the path of service so that we could give something back. I’m sure most, if not all of my fellow Airmen, feel the same way.

Every day that passes, I continue to be impressed (in some cases, left speechless) by the service, dedication or selflessness of fellow Airmen in face of great threats. The fact is, the threats to our nation are real. All you need to do is read a paper, a blog, a website or watch the news to realize that the world’s security environment has become increasingly contested and dangerous. Enemies to our nation and our way of life are out there, and they are everywhere. Enemies are educated, equipped and resourced; they use everyday technology against us. ISIS is recruiting via Facebook for crying out loud!

But here’s the good news! The enemies can’t win, and they won’t. Our Air Force family is too strong. We develop Airmen of character and integrity who are ready and able to take the fight to the enemy, and who are not afraid to risk personal safety to ensure mission accomplishment. We cultivate the best this nation has to offer; American Airmen dedicated to service, who want to give back, and who love our nation and its way of life. Airmen dedicated to freedom and choice. Our enemies don’t understand that. They never will, and they can’t win.

So as I reflect, I am comforted by the fact that my own family is surrounded and protected by my second family of U.S. Air Force Airmen. The very Airmen who provide that blanket of security and freedom for my family to choose how we want to live, and for you to choose how you want to live. And for that, I am truly thankful. Thank you again, America’s Air Force! God Bless you all!