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Veteran's Day a time to reflect on sacrifice of heroes past

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Brian Hornback

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below

Lt. Col. John McCrae penned those words nearly 100 years ago as he sat on the back of an ambulance outside of his dressing station, where he spent 17 days treating injured men and burying the dead in Ypres, Belgium, during World War I.

They called it "The Great War," because no one could imagine a war that was greater in scope and destruction. However, time has proven that the mind of man is capable of far worse. It is in the defense of our ideals, our homes and our families that brave men and women take a stand. It is their bravery that has stood against the tide of darkness time and time again.

When there is a visible enemy to fight, the tide of patriotism in this country runs strong. But when there is a long, slow struggle, with no immediate visible foe, when you watch your contemporaries indulging the urge for material gain and comfort and personal advancement, your choice will seem hard, and you will recall, I am sure, the lines found in an old sentry box at Gibraltar, "God and the soldier all men adore in time of trouble and no more, for when war is over, and all things righted, God is neglected and the old soldier slighted." John F. Kennedy, 1961 Address to the Midshipmen at Annapolis highlights what it means to serve.

In every age there have been those who challenge the freedoms of others, those who would set their hands to destroy all record of a free people, but they cannot - they will not. Brave men and women have stood against tyranny whenever it appears. It is those men and women we honor today, those volunteers who stood to defend this nation, and offer our remembrance and gratitude to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Air Force Global Strike Command and its predecessors have a long legacy of service in the defense of freedom. From the 'Mighty Eighth' in World War II to the long, slow struggle of the Cold War warriors, to those who have served and are currently serving in the Middle East, the Pacific and on constant alert, our Airmen have made countless sacrifices to protect this nation.

Today's veterans are no different. Whether involved in active combat or providing critical support to ensure mission success, they have volunteered to put themselves in harm's way and made a commitment to defend this country from all enemies foreign and domestic. These are our veterans, and we honor them for their sacrifice.