Tag Archives: General Stephen R. Lorenz

The most beautiful song, Nov. 21, 2012

By Retired Gen. Steve Lorenz
U.S. Air Force Academy Endowment

By all measures, it was a typical football game day at Falcon Stadium. Many people were tailgating, there was a slight chill in the air, the sky was a brilliant bright blue, and the crowd was excited as the game time approached. With great precision, the Cadet Wing had marched into the stadium. With great fanfare, the Wings of Blue parachute team had jumped onto the football field, and the flyover by several Air Force aircraft had created much excitement.

As the cadet band began to play our national anthem, the audience around us rose up to show respect for our flag and the music Francis Scott Key wrote 200 years ago. In unison, we placed our right hands over our hearts to show the proper respect as the Star Spangled Banner was played.

As the ceremony began, the entire stadium went silent as they turned to face the American flag and listen to the music. It was then that I heard what initially sounded like a person yelling at the top of his lungs and making loud, incoherent sounds. I did not know what it was, but my initial reaction was one of disbelief and irritation that this person could be so insensitive and disrespectful while an entire stadium full of people were saluting our nation’s flag.

But as I listened closely to this disruptive sound, I began to make out what appeared to be words. I could not understand every word, but every third or fourth word seemed to fit into the melody of our national anthem. Someone, in his own painful way, was singing the Star Spangled Banner.

I looked where the sounds were coming from. In front of me was the ramp reserved for handicapped fans, and there he was. A young man was sitting in a wheelchair, in an Air Force T-shirt, with an Air Force baseball cap perched on his head. He was swaying back and forth to the sounds of the music despite suffering from the obvious physical effects of a serious long term debilitating illness.

As I listened more carefully, I could make out more and more of the words he was singing. This handicapped Air Force Academy football fan had a huge smile on his face as he sang with great gusto our national anthem.

My initial irritation immediately turned to great pride as I watched this young man sing his heart out. Tears welled up in my eyes as I listened to the finest rendition of the Star Spangled Banner I had ever heard. This young man touched my heart and the hearts of everyone around him who really heard what he was singing. I walked up to 31 year old Kenny Frith, who was born with cerebral palsy, and thanked him for reminding me what really is important. I told him I would never forget him or his singing of our national anthem.

Families are foundation for our forces

Greetings! I am Technical Sergeant Phyllis Hanson, an 18-year-plus veteran, who is proudly assigned to Air Force Public Affairs Agency and the newest member of the Emerging Technology Division. I will be posting here on a regular basis and want to remind you that we all welcome your feedback.  Don’t forget to check out the Air Force on Facebook and  follow us on Twitter.

Family means everything to me. And when I recently read a poignant commentary, “Cherish your spouse,” written by General Stephen R. Lorenz, the Air Education and Training Command commander, it really struck a chord.

General Lorenz’ commentary sparked many thoughts in my mind about my own situation as well as thinking more about military members like me who are affected very deeply with deployments.familyfinal

Year of the Air Force Family (YOAFF) Week is kicking off November 1 and I’m excited to be a part of it. The Air Force has put together a great site, that I hope each and every Air Force member and their families will check out.

I am all too familiar with the painful struggles military members face — everything from making multiple moves, working long hours and the aforementioned deployments. It is especially hard on families, whether it’s the spouse, the children and the parents, and even friends.

On the YOAFF site there is a wealth of info — everything from YOAFF calendar of events; helpful resources; Air Force family articles and Health and Wellness, to support initiatives such as Air Force Cross Roads and Air Force Fit Factor. The site also has links on education, as well as Airman and Family Housing.

As outlined in August by Secretary Michael B. Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, July 2009 to July 2010 has been designated as “Year of the Air Force Family.” It is a year-long focus on Air Force programs highlighting the importance of, and commitment to, the entire Air Force family: all Airmen, married and single; spouses; children; Air Force civilians; extended families; and retirees.

During my most recent deployment (6 months) to Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, now named Transit Center at Manas, my fiance’ took care of my 8-year-old son, Gabriel. Talk about sacrifice and commitment! I just returned this July and immediately got orders to where I am today.

The deployment before that in 2007-08, I was stationed at Ali Base, Iraq, (during the holidays mind you) and my parents took care of my son. In 2005, a deployment took me to Camp Victory, Iraq and my former husband took care of Gabriel.

Gabriel was born just weeks after 9/11 and this wonderful and sometimes painful military life is all he knows. And while my brave, young son toughs out every situation, I realize how lucky I am to have a supportive and loving family who is always there for me.

I owe it all to my parents, fiance’ and even my former spouse. I would not be where I am today without their unconditional support and care. It really is all about the family.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Phyllis Hanson.