***image1***The 11th of November had originally been dedicated as Armistice Day in 1938 to commemorate the cessation of World War I hostilities on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. Since it has evolved into a day of remembrance for all veterans who have served our nation so proudly and so selflessly.
I recently had the honor of meeting several Berlin Airlifters as they celebrated the 55th anniversary of their incredible feat. Those men and women were responsible for the freedom of West Berlin and had an enormous impact in preventing communist expansion into Western Europe. Twenty-two U.S. Air Force pilots gave their lives defending freedom as the joint U.S. and British operation flew 277,569 sorties and transported over 2.3 million tons of cargo to Berlin from 1948 to 1949. These brave men and women completed the largest airlift operation to date – only rivaled in size by current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
One thing that struck me as I talked with these heroes was their incredible humility. The common reply from these veterans Airlifters was that they were “just doing their jobs – nothing more.”
Today, in the veteran’s of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom I see that same humble attitude. But believe me, all of you in the 86th Airlift Wing and Team Ramstein are accomplishing historic feats too. We have aircrews and support personnel actively engaged in the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the results of our efforts to bring freedom to oppressed peoples are becoming more evident every day. Afghanistan just conducted its first democratic election in 25 years and the citizens of Iraq are preparing for their own elections in January. Our airlift forces are also engaged in the war torn region of Sudan, providing humanitarian aide and helping quell the violence that has created an enormous refugee problem.
***image2***I’m positive that if you asked any of the proud men and women of the 86th AW if they were doing great things, their response would be similar as the Berlin Airlifters – “We’re just doing our jobs.” And it would be an equally humble understatement. In my book, you are all heroes and your current effort to promote freedom and democracy around the world will link you to the long line of our nation’s proud veterans.
On this Veterans Day, take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices and contributions of our brave veterans to ensure our freedoms and freedom around the world. Also reflect on your efforts and the link you are forging with the veterans of the past and the legacy that you are creating for tomorrow. Let’s continue to make those veterans proud! God bless you, your families and our veterans, and thank you for all that you do everyday in the defense of freedom.