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Chief’s Corner – Week of May 29

Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. -- Earn it, every day.

The Memorial Day weekend and events always give me a nice boost going into the critical days of summer. Here are a few random, hopefully relevant thoughts I wanted to share as we transition from the two weeks of Colorado springtime into the summer.

During the past few weeks, we've been able to observe what most would consider an unprecedented outpouring of gratitude and attention from the society we serve. As we stopped to pay tribute to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country, it's impossible to not stop and appreciate all who have served. Just in the past week, I saw Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III on late night television, I saw a staff sergeant perform a duet on primetime tv with Kellie Pickler, and I saw several military members in a shootout with Ice-T on the Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon. Indeed, the nation we serve has placed us on a pedestal. Which is a long way to fall if we don't get it right. Earn it.

I struggle to keep up with the onslaught of new Air Force acronyms: CCIP, MIC-T, CIMB, and LMNOP. It all just means the force is evolving and so we must evolve with it. While we struggle with the anxieties of learning new processes and concepts, do so with the willingness to change as the Air Force requires, but also stay anchored in the simple, basic things we learned from the beginning. The first thing the AF taught us was how to wear the uniform. Every time we put on the uniform, we should wear it perfectly and proudly. From the beginning, the AF taught us customs and courtesies and basic etiquette. All those things we should do perfectly, 100 percent of the time. I often hear discussions and mentoring sessions begin with the question, "Why did you join the Air Force?" Good starting point for a chat about core values or any number of things, but ultimately it doesn't matter. Most of us joined the Air Force for different reasons. What's important is that we're here today. The "why" part is secondary. What's truly important is that serving our country as a member of the Air Force is an absolute privilege. I always notice at the commissary the multitudes of older veterans wearing caps from whatever campaign or war they served. Lots of Vietnam, Korea and Desert Storm caps bearing campaign pins. Increasingly dwindling number of World War II vets. Strike up a conversation with one of these warriors. I bet you won't hear them brag about all the money they made. You probably also won't hear them complaining about uniform changes, physical training requirements, weekend duty, exercises or inspections. You will, however, see them proudly speak of sacrifices and physical and emotional scars associated with their service. Some of them are 80 years old or more; yet they are most proud of the part of their lives where they served this country, in some cases, just for a few years.

Every now and again, stop and figure out what's really important.

Every single day, earn the right to build on the legacy we've been handed.
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