Service and sacrifice

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo -- This past Veterans Day I was reminded of these two qualities; virtues that became a way of life nearly 70 years ago when our nation was in the midst of one of its greatest struggles ever. 

Times were very tough back then. We were a nation at war in a struggle against evil around the globe. A war against people who wanted to rid the globe of democracy and capitalism. 

We were also suffering from the aftermath of a long economic depression that had wiped out fortunes and ruined families. 

Yet the men and women of what has become known as the "Greatest Generation" realized that only through service and sacrifice could they rescue both our nation and the world from tyranny. Men and women from all over the country put their private lives aside to serve our country.

Like Dr. Charles Van Gorder, a captain in the United States Army on D-Day, who volunteered to be part of a medical team dropped behind enemy lines the night before the invasion. Narrowly escaping death, he saved countless lives in the march across France before he was taken prisoner by the Germans Dec. 19, 1944. 

It wasn't just those in uniform putting service before self. All across the country people sacrificed personal comforts for the war effort and the good of the nation.

We are in a similar struggle today. We are a nation at war and in economic hardship. The stock market indexes look like a yo-yo and nobody seems to know what will happen next. And the enemy we fight today is no less virulent then the fascists of the 1930s and 40s.

Just like the heroes of our past, military men and women today are willing to sacrifice everything to serve for the common good. I can't tell you how many times someone from my squadron has raised their hand to deploy overseas. I am constantly amazed at the selfless acts that 509ers and all our U.S. Forces perform on a daily basis in this war against terror. 

Like Dr. Bruce Woodford who raised his hand to spend a year in Afghanistan to rebuild their medical service and train their medics; or Lt. Col. Scott Voskovitch who is on a one-year tour in Iraq training their newly fledgling Air Force.

But it's not just those serving overseas who sacrifice. The great men and women of the 509th Bomb Wing and our tenant units sacrifice and serve for the common good daily here at home station.

Service and sacrifice are not unfamiliar to those of us in the military. We make service an integral part of our lives. Unfortunately, this feeling is not nearly as prevalent outside of our gates now as it was during WWII. We need to take the initiative and import these qualities back into our culture. 

So constantly ask yourself "how can I be of service?" Be the example for the rest of the country so that perhaps someday we also will be remembered as a great generation.