United in strength, bonded by service

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Mark Dillon
  • 86th Airlift Wing Commander
"It is fitting and proper that we devote one day each year to paying special tribute to those whose constancy and courage constitute one of the bulwarks guarding the freedom of this nation and the peace of the free world."

--President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Established by President Harry S. Truman in 1949, Armed Forces Day is a way the nation can celebrate all of its servicemembers on the same day. The day was not only established to acknowledge the men and women who wear the uniform, but to also serve as an opportunity for the services to showcase the diversity of jobs we perform every day.

The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated by parades, open houses, receptions and air shows. In Washington D.C., 10,000 members of all branches of the military, cadets and veterans marched past the President and his party. In Berlin, 1,000 U.S. service members paraded for the German citizens at Tempelhof Airfield. In New York City, an estimated 33,000 participants initiated Armed Forces Day "under an air cover of 250 military planes of all types." In the harbors across the country were the famed mothballed "battlewagons" of World War II, the Missouri, the New Jersey, the North Carolina, and the Iowa, all open for public inspection. Precision flying teams dominated the skies as tracking radar were exhibited on the ground.

And while we may not see the same fanfare that occurred in 1950, it does not mean that the sacrifice and courage is less worthy, or the duty not deserving. In fact, most of today's military prefer to be the quiet professionals, the unsung heroes, simply proudly serving without need for recognition.

But it's on this day, the third Saturday in May, that our nation will pause to honor those of you who daily accept the honorable responsibility of defending our country. It's a day meant to recognize the amazing contributions of the 1.48 million Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coastguardsmen that serve in our U.S. military forces today.

It is right we do so. The first Armed Forces Day came at a time of increased world tensions, political volatility and communist aggression. Today, the world remains a dangerous place. The men and women of our U.S. military continue to stand up to those dangers as we stay engaged in combat and humanitarian operations around the globe. For many, we've lost friends due to these dangers, and we've suffered without regret.

Here in the KMC, we face those dangers head on here in our backyard.

The enemies we face, whether here in Europe or in the deployed environment, threaten our national interests. They threaten our very way of life. But it's that commonality that binds us together, and allows us to celebrate as brothers and sisters in arms -- we are united in strength by the common bond of our service.

It's fitting that this year's celebration is in fact themed "United inĀ Strength" - because it highlights the connection between service members and those who support us. Here in the KMC we know the strength it takes as we frequently leave our families to provide ready forces to the combatant commands, anytime, anywhere, regardless of the mission.

We also know the importance of being united with not only our joint partners, but also Coalition nations and our local community.

We are a true representation of what this holiday is meant to celebrate here in the KMC, a diversity of forces and people with a common goal. We may miss out on the parades, BBQ's and other festivities that go along with this holiday, but we should not forget the strength of those who support us here and at "home" in the states.

Whether you're serving here at Ramstein or downrange -- whether you find yourself flying support missions over Europe or Africa, or providing combat support here at home -- you are making a difference and so is every person in your family.

Your service and your daily sacrifice matters and we celebrate that daily, not just once a year.