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Why I wear the uniform

Airman Mohammed Ahsan, 50th Operations Support Squadron

Airman Mohammed Ahsan, 50th Operations Support Squadron

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- A tear rolled down my eye on a hot September afternoon. I was issued two strips of cloth with the Airman Battle Uniform tiger stripe pattern, bearing my last name and U.S. AIR FORCE on them. They might just be two mere strips of cloth, but to me they are way more than that. My identity was stripped off of me the very first day I arrived at Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. For some of us trainees, these name and service tapes were more than just add-ons to our ABU's; they gave us a sense of pride, responsibility and achievement.

It was pretty hard for me to reach this stage, completing four weeks of training, and finally becoming an Airman. I was away from home for the first time without any family contact. The name tape on my right side bearing the five letters that have never been sewn on to an ABU blouse within my family, reminds me that my family legacy in the military is just beginning. The U.S. AIR FORCE tape on the left of the blouse, which rests over my beating heart, made me realize I am part of something bigger than my last name on the right, and that I am providing superior air (space and cyber) power for America as an Airman. It reminds me of all my brothers and sisters in arms who are willing to sacrifice anything for their country just like I have longed to achieve. Now I am getting the chance, every day that I get to wake up and put on the uniform.

Every day, I think of all the people who doubted me, and told me I would go nowhere but end up right back where I started. The one stripe on my arm proves them wrong and shows progression from airman basic to airman. That one stripe, which came with increased responsibility and expectations, motivates me to work even harder to achieve advancement and be a role model to my younger brother who also yearns to serve beside me in the ranks of the world's greatest Air Force.

Today, I woke up and put on my uniform, aware that it is not just another article of clothing. It sets me apart from every other American who is not an Airman. The sense of pride, responsibility and achievement sticks with me as I go about my day, living the way of life most Americans don't get to live, working hard to achieve the mission at hand, along with thousands of other Airmen who don the same uniform I have on today.
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