KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Team Kirtland began Friday, Oct. 9, by taking a moment to remember the service and sacrifice of American veterans.
The service at the Chapel featured speakers 377th Air Base Wing Vice Commander Col. Christopher King, and 58th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Superintendent Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Norman. Each was to the point that Airmen should keep faith with those who served and sacrificed through our nation’s history in the Armed Forces.
Veterans Day means honoring those who have served and strengthening the bonds among those currently in service, King said, explaining that many in attendance had only known war, serving in the context of the now 17-plus-year war on terror.
“For most of us, the cost of our service in this profession of arms is high, both physically and mentally,” King said. “We must continue to be an army of brothers and sisters and support each other before, during and after the deployment.”
In part, this means recognizing the many forms of service and sacrifice veterans of given.
“On this Veteran’s Day, we thank our veterans for raising their hands and swearing to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, against all enemies foreign and domestic,” King said. “We also thank them for trudging through jungles and rice patties; for building bases in scorching temperatures above 120 degrees; for sitting alert underground for days on end in our missile fields; for the door-to-door combat in foreign cities to rid them of terrorists; or the clearing of mind fields so children could play freely; for standing sentries at our installation gates, keeping our nation’s assets safe; for countless sorties launched from aircraft carriers around the world; for humanitarian efforts around the world; for tireless efforts to uphold the principals of freedom--we owe our veterans an incredible debt and we all share the responsibility to keep meeting on days like today, to provide a remembrance and to honor the service given to our great nation.”
Norman explained that it is the duty of each Airmen to examine connections to veterans who have gone before them, and to take time to revere them.
“It’s about those men and women who went off and did the hard things that drive difficult memories, the sleepless nights, [and] sometimes broken homes,” Normal said.
While many who raise their hands and take the oath of enlistment or commissioning are impressed with the pride that comes with the obligation and the uniform, the true source of this pride is our veterans and their legacy.
“The first time they are called an Airman, Solider, Sailor or Marine, they are filled with pride. They are not quite certain where the pride comes from, other than somebody yelled at them and made them afraid and that they’d better have some pride,” Norman said. “Without our veterans we don’t have a nation, we don’t have a history to look to--we don’t have a history to be proud of. [Veterans] are the guiding light that, whenever we start to venture off the path, leads us back to our principles, and requires of us to look inside ourselves and ask how we are keeping faith with them.
“On this Veterans Day, let’s ensure--while many people are going to get a free waffle--let’s ensure that we take stock of what it means to each of us, what it should mean to each of us, and realize that the shadows of our past are standing behind us, ready to support us, ensuring that we keep faith with them.”
The ceremony ended with a reading of the poem “In Flanders Field,” by John McCrae.
As the poem concludes, the two leaders’ message is solemnly echoed.
…Take up the quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
Be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.