Character of America serves to protect

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Dan Milnes
  • 56th Medical Support Squadron
The 56th Fighter Wing continues to deploy Airmen as we do our part infighting the global war on terror. 

I was proud and genuinely moved a few weeks ago when the Medical Group deployed our latest team of  warfighters. A medical administration team consisting of two officers and four enlisted personnel left Luke for a routine 120 day tour to an expeditionary medical facility. At 7 a.m. on a Wednesday, about 30 members of the MDG staff wished the Airmen farewell as they departed Luke.
One of the Airmen deploying had witnessed the birth of his first child only hours before. About one week following arrival in country, another one of our Airmen received great news that his wife had given birth to a baby boy. All of the deploying Airmen left family behind. They did so with a sense of duty so strong -- I find it difficult to comprehend and inspiring beyond words. 

For generations, the men and women who served in our armed forces in times of peace and war have preserved the precious gift of liberty that we enjoy every day. We honor all of their sacrifices. 

From the earliest days of our nation, even before independence had been won, Gen. George Washington understood that the toil and blood that purchased a new nation would have lasting meaning only if the character of the nation matched the sacrifice of those who fought for its independence; and, only if the independence of that new nation was secured on the pillars of justice and freedom. 

A new birth of freedom -- a nation where the right of the people to govern themselves is realized, where religion is a matter of personal conscience, where dreams are large. Where, through education and determination, every person can make those dreams real, and in so doing, make a better world. All of us fortunate enough to live in this great country have known a government, in George Washington's words, "which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance." 

Our new birth of freedom, our democratic experiment, occurred nearly two-and-a-half centuries ago. In the 18th century we began with a ragtag revolutionary army challenging the strongest military power on earth. In the 19th century we survived a civil war, which pitted brother against brother. In the 20th century we survived two world wars and a 50-year cold war that took us to Korea and Vietnam and put us on the brink of nuclear war over Cuba.
Today, we have more that two million of our country's greatest, best-trained men and women serving around the globe and taking responsibility for securing our nation's freedoms and securing a future of peace, stability, prosperity and justice. Whether serving on the ground, in the air, or at sea; whether serving overseas or at home; and whether active-duty, Guard or Reserve, their sacrifice and unflinching
willingness to put service before self is truly extraordinary. 

Freedom is not free, and we have endured as a nation for more than 230 years on the backs of men and women in uniform. We owe them very much. Not because I wear the uniform or you wear the uniform, but because the history of this great nation is about service and sacrifice. Generations of Americans have fought and died for the greater good. And they have served not only to preserve our nation's values but also so that the ideals of freedom and liberty could be extended to all citizens of the world. 

So as we recall what it means to be an American, why we are willing to fight for what America means, let us remember that it isn't just about us, but  for that which America stands. America stands for enduring values -- the right of people to govern themselves, to live in safety and security, to enjoy peace and prosperity, to find and to worship God in their own way. 

That is the character of our nation, and I am honored to serve with such outstanding Americans.