Celebrate the past, look to the future

  • Published
  • By Col. Shane Hershman
  • 62nd Airlift Wing vice commander

This week began in mourning as American flags around the world flew at half-staff to honor the innocent victims of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

It was a moving experience to see the parade field with all the flags, and I thank all of you who gathered Monday morning to pay tribute to our fallen countrymen and women. It was an honor to have Gov. Christine Gregoire join McChord's Airmen for the ceremony.

Sept. 11 is an integral part of who we are today. It has been five years since terrorists struck at innocent Americans on our own soil. More people died that day than died at Pearl Harbor.

More than 600 McChord Airmen are currently deployed throughout the world fighting the Global War on Terror and other contingencies. We will never forget the victims of Sept. 11 and why we serve.

Though we started the week in remembrance, we will end the week in celebration as we come together for the Air Force's 59th birthday and the Air Force Ball.

We've come a long way since the pioneering pilots of the Army Air Corps. From the C-17 Globemaster III, the Air Force's most flexible cargo aircraft, to the wireless communication systems in our buildings, the technology we use to fight the war day-to-day has changed dramatically since 1947.

One thing that hasn't changed, however, is the caliber of the men and women who serve in blue.

 Since the beginning, the best and brightest of young Americans have sworn to serve our country in the U.S. Air Force. I am continually amazed at the ability of our Airmen, young and old, to adapt to overcome any challenge presented to them.

The past, whether five or 59 years ago, colors our present and our future.  Without the events of the past, the Air Force would not be where it is today, and those of us serving today will determine where it will be five or 59 years from now.

What will our children and grandchildren think of us when they look back at what we did with the Air Force during our time?

Our time is now. What will we do with it to make tomorrow better? I leave the answer to you.