Modern day patriots are all around us

  • Published
  • By Col. Gary Lane
  • 5th Maintenance Group commander
We often read in our history books about patriots -- what often comes to mind is someone like Mel Gibson dressed in early day garb as he was in the Patriot. We may even think of soldiers in rags in the snow at Valley Forge facing an overwhelming force of British regulars.

What about modern day patriots? Are there such people who risk their lives daily to protect our way of life, our nation that our forefathers passed down to us?

I ask you to put the paper down and go look in the mirror. If you are married, then take your spouse with you. You are now looking at true patriots who are willing to put their lives on the line, suffer whatever hardships come their way and cheerfully set about their tasks. Look outside at your military friends and neighbors: more patriots.

Not one of us decided to enter the military to get rich. There is absolutely no way anyone of us can seek out fortune with a military career. But our nation and our citizens can count on us to be there to prevent aggressors from taking away our way of life, our liberties, our government, or our land.

For 228 years, men and women like us have stood up and taken oaths to protect and defend the Constitution and our nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Many have given up their lives in defense of our nation. Many more have been wounded, maimed or severely injured.

Our nation’s forces are now entirely made up of volunteers just like you. Throughout the hardships of frequent moves, high operations tempo, long hours without additional compensation, missing many important family events (our children taking their first steps, their first birthdays or Christmases, anniversaries) and long separations that put us in harm’s way, we continue to sign on the dotted line for another tour to continue on in our nation’s defense.

It doesn’t matter where you work, whether it’s pushing papers at the military personnel flight, on gate guard duty or roaming the missile field, turning wrenches on the jets, deep underground in a missile silo, putting the throttles to the firewall on takeoff, ensuring the government funds are wisely spent, or serving up chow at midnight, you are a patriot in every sense of the word.

What are our attributes? We beat ourselves up unmercifully when things don’t turn out as planned, but we fail to credit ourselves when our work turns out spectacularly. Openly, we feel embarrassed when we are decorated for service above and beyond, but deep down, we feel proud that we did a job well done.

We willingly place ourselves in harm’s way to keep our families safe, for we know that if we don’t, an aggressor or a band of thugs will soon be putting us all in jeopardy. Our spouses and family understand this, and they are the unsung heroes of this brotherhood we call the profession of arms. They are the ones who deal with broken down cars in the middle of the winter, and who care for our children who keep them up all night because they are sick or are missing us while we are deployed to some desolate location where someone is taking potshots at us. They are the ones who dread the midnight visits by the commanders because something has happened to one of our aircraft or one of us.

Patriots, you are the reason this nation is still free. You are the reason our citizens can travel the world knowing the United States is the sole superpower of the world. We are surrounded by patriots; look in the mirror, look at your neighbor and especially look at your spouse. God Bless the Patriots of the United States of America -- God Bless you and your spouse.