Although this symbol wasn’t designed until 1999 and wasn’t designated officially until 2004, it has defined my life since 1980. In fact, it’s become such an ingrained part of our Air Force culture, I was surprised to read it hasn’t been around since my husband was first commissioned. In my mind, it’s always been with us.
Like our flag, it requires no explanation, and it stirs up a wellspring of emotion when I see it.
For the past 35 years this symbol has defined my husband, our family, and our way of life.
“Our” retirement ceremony is this coming Monday.
It’s been an amazing ride.
My heart is full.
Airplanes don’t stay up in the air all by themselves. It takes the dedication of many maintainers to keep them flying and in the military those dedicated professionals are out there on the flight line 24/7, 365 days a year.
The pay is low, the weather extremes are brutal, the tempo is high, and their pride is unbounded.
Last Friday evening I had the privilege of attending an awards banquet for an Air Force Maintenance Group. It was held in a hangar, with engines for ambiance, and a huge American flag setting the tone. In one corner of the room families and young couples were playing corn hole. The delicious aroma of BBQ sauce permeated the area near the food tables and for once, the outside of the room filled their plates first, with the Commanders’ tables being the last to eat. All was as it should be.
Awards were given out, camaraderie was evident, and I’ve never been prouder to be a military spouse.
Banquets happen once a year and only a few go home with the hardware. My hope is that each and every day someone thanks a maintainer on that flight line with a pat on the back, a smile of gratitude, a helping hand or a high-five for a job well done.
The big awards are nice but it’s the everyday rewards that make a difference in daily life.
Be the person that delivers that reward.
Incidentally, any banquet that doesn’t require a long dress and heels is the perfect banquet in my book; a reward in itself!
When you live or work on an Air Force Base there are three things that happen without fail. Our day starts at 7 a.m. with the rousing sound of Reverie and our day ends with the beautifully haunting notes of Taps at 9 p.m. These two songs are part of the cadence of our days, woven seamlessly into the other sounds of our lives…the engine runs, the “big voice” during exercises, the laughter of children on playgrounds, train whistles, crickets on a hot summer night.
But it’s the 5 o’clock hour that everyone is the most aware of. At 5, as the flag is lowered for the day, the National Anthem is played. We’re expected to stop our cars, our children stop mid-play and put their hands over their hearts, military members who are outside stop and stand at attention. All conversation ceases. Our lives pause for those few minutes as we pay respect to our flag and to the country whose freedoms we hold so dear.
In this commander’s house even our dogs know what happens at this hour. We often walk and feed them at five so the anthem always means dinner time! The music starts playing and in a Pavlovian state, the drool starts flowing. However, if I happen to feed them just a bit early and we are already out and on our post dinner walk, this is what occurs….
Xavier promptly sits down as the first notes of the anthem play….lifts his head….
You just gotta love this Air Force dog!