Tag Archives: patriotism

It’s 1700 somewhere

By Capt. David Liapis
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Its side effects can range from confusion, induced sprinting for cover, to enhanced feelings of pride. It has the power to stop people in their tracks and causes self-induced paralysis for nearly two minutes at a time.

Reveille and retreat ceremonies occur on most military installations across the U.S. at the beginning and the end of the duty day, typically 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Some include playing the ceremonial music over the installation public address system.

While it’s easy to follow commands given while in the vicinity of the flag pole, what about while across base at the running track or while driving down the road? The general rule is to cease all activities and render honors when the music is played (unless you’re taking an Air Force fitness assessment or it would otherwise cause a safety hazard).

While some reading this might be thinking, “well, duh!” there is a reason for this commentary. It seems that many people have forgotten their customs and courtesies or choose to ignore what to do when the music is played. In spite of some vehicles stopping and people standing still and saluting, some people don’t clue into the fact something is happening that requires their attention. This ignorance, willful or not, bothers me and many other military members.

I spent two years in Turkey, where the only U.S. flags I saw were either the one in front of the wing headquarters building on base, the one at the U.S. embassy, or the ones being burned by protesters. The sweet sound of “The Star-Spangled Banner” rang through the air only once a year at this base. I can tell you this, that once-a-year treat sent chills down my spine and brought tears to my eyes. To quote an old song, “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.”

Our flag is special and deserves our respect. It flies all over our great land reminding us of the freedoms we love. It’s carried into battle to inspire those willing to fight for it. It drapes over the caskets of our fallen heroes who gave their all for it.

Remember the above reasons next time the music starts and you’re tempted to keep driving, run into the nearest building or duck into your vehicle. Take advantage of that minute or two while standing and showing honor to the flag and think about those who have defended it and those who still defend it. Rather than turning up the radio and pretending to ignore the music so you don’t get two minutes behind schedule, stop and roll down your window and think of how privileged you are to live in this great nation.

So, since I’m already quoting song lyrics, how about “it’s time we stop, hey what’s that sound…” next time you realize “it’s five o’clock somewhere.”

Hold the Line: We live in a fishbowl

by Chief Master Sgt. Cynthia M. Solomito
AFGLSC Command Chief

Have you ever walked through a store parking lot in uniform and had someone stop you to say, “Thank you for your service”? Have you walked through the airport in uniform while deploying and had other travelers stop and shake your hand? As military members we represent our units, our service and each other. Military members stand out in a crowd.

One day I experienced a different situation. I was driving to work and stopped at the local gas station to get gas. As I was standing by my SUV at the pumps, I saw a car pull into a parking spot by the store. An Airman jumped out of a car with just his t-shirt and ABU pants, no shirt and no hat. Before I could do anything, he came out with a cup of coffee and package of cigarettes, jumped in his car and took off. As fate would have it, he had a pretty recognizable car so I asked the first sergeants if any of them knew the Airman. He was attending Airman Leadership School. My plan was to stop by ALS and just talk to him for minute. It’s funny how we know when we have done something wrong (what is the definition of integrity?) because as soon as he saw me he knew what I was going to say. The conversation was short and I asked one question: why? Does the answer really matter? He knew it was wrong and made the choice to disregard our dress and appearance standards. Some Airmen would turn their head and not address the issue. Do two wrongs make a right?

I believe we live in a fishbowl and our behavior is watched where ever we go. Our country places high standards on the men and women of the United States military and they expect us to be above reproach at all times. You never know who is looking. Let’s face it — with technological advancements over the past years, nothing is secret. Look at the YouTube videos, cell phone pictures and Facebook conversations that find their way into the media. The military has been in the news quite a lot the past year with our people displaying some questionable behaviors. One bad act can completely ruin our image and overshadow all the wonderful things our men and women have accomplished. Are we ready to face the consequences of our actions?

So what is my point? We are an all volunteer force; no one can make us enlist. When we are at basic military training we learn standards and are taught the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. When we have doubts, we even have an Airmen’s Owner’s Manual, otherwise known as AFI 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure. Beyond what we have been taught we need to do the right thing and hold the line. Ask yourself, “Would my actions make my mother, father, sister, brother, spouse or fellow Airmen happy?”