Why are we here?

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Barton Schuck
  • 84th Radar Evaluation Squadron
Twice this year I have attended memorial services for Airmen who have given their lives to defend our Nation, freedoms, and the values we hold so dear. At both of these services a speaker was talking about the Flag of the United States and all the many locations in which it flies. The speech ends with, "...and it flies in the heart of every Airman." I believe it flies in the heart of most citizens, but sadly not in the hearts of all.

A few months ago I was rushing to get to the pharmacy before it closed at 5 p.m. As I was quickly walking up the sidewalk, I heard retreat begin to play so I stopped and faced the music to render proper respect to the flag and our National Anthem, two symbols of the freedoms we have all sworn to support and defend.

As retreat was still sounding I saw another Airman come out a side door of the clinic and kept walking. When I announced to him the National Anthem was about to play, he seemed a little shocked at first, but came to attention and rendered the proper show of respect. When he stopped, he was a few feet away from the street standing at attention and held his salute, yet not one car pulled over and stopped, most people just looked at him wondering what he was doing.

At this same time there were other Airmen leaving the fitness center, but instead of stopping, everyone I saw ran to their cars. As mentioned above, fellow servicemembers are dying for our country and our way of life, yet some individuals cannot be inconvenienced for a few minutes to show respect for this great Nation.

Many of us joined the military out of a sense of patriotism and a deep love for this country and the values we uphold to the rest of the world. We are proud to wear the uniform of our Nation's armed forces.

When we wear our uniforms on or off base we should wear them properly and proudly because the public views us as defenders of this Nation and to a certain degree, hold us to a higher standard. In almost every situation, when we are in uniform we are to wear a hat, almost everyone does this while on base, but once off base the rules seem to disappear.

I can't begin to guess how many times I have seen people out working in their yards, putting gas in their cars, or walking through parking lots with no hat. This happens off base where the image we project is most important. When you approach these individuals to remind them of their mistake you here comments like, "I'm the installation commander at my house and I have declared this a no-hat area." However, most usually realize what they are doing is wrong and correct themselves on the spot.

Integrity, our first Core Value, has been defined by some as, doing the right thing even when no one is looking. We should all exercise integrity and strive to do what is right while on base and while in the eyes of the general public. We represent something greater than ourselves and we should be proud of our service to our Nation. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country; don't you think we can at least make some small sacrifices like showing proper respect for our flag and National Anthem and wearing our uniforms properly in all situations? If any of us answer this question with "no," then why are we here?