I’m a “brat”, and my dad was a “lifer”. I grew up in the Air Force. For most of you being called a brat would be an insult. For those of us raised in the military it is a term of endearment and even respect. Growing up “on base” is a very unique experience, one that I treasure. While some experiences are exactly the same as growing up in any small town there are plenty that only come to those who live on a military installation.
We moved to Mt. Home Air Force Base the summer before my sophomore year of high school. In Idaho I could get my driver’s license at 14 so I spent that summer taking driver’s education. Shortly into the school year I had some friends who wanted to come over to the house after school. I was happy to drive them as it was good practice. They had not been on base before and were fascinated by the process of going through the gate, as well as driving by the rows of identical houses and complexes. I showed them the Commissary, Base Exchange, the Youth Center and of course they were amazed by the planes.
Suddenly everything stopped. I pulled the car over and turned it off which stopped the music that was coming from the car’s radio. There were puzzled looks on my friend’s faces and they asked what was up. I told them to be quiet and listen. Echoing over the base was the sound of “The Star Spangled Banner”. They looked around they realized every car had pulled over. Everyone, whether they were on the sidewalk, in their yard, even kids on the playground had stopped what they were doing and were looking to where the sound came from. Those in uniform were saluting; the rest had a hand over their heart. When the music ceased everyone carried on with their activities.
Of course an explanation was in order, as my friends had no idea what was going on. I told them that every morning and evening the sound of reveille and then retreat signaled the start and end of the day. There was a flag on the base that raised and lowered to the music. If we could see the flag we faced it, if we couldn’t see the flag we looked in the direction from which the music came paying respect to our flag and country.
It didn’t matter what we were doing. If we were playing baseball the umpire would stand up and hold the game while the players removed their caps and placed them over their heart. No matter what was going on in our busy life we stopped and paid respect to the flag.
You might have guessed I have a very soft spot for our national anthem. I will admit, I like it performed simply and correctly in such a manner that others can sing along. I always sing along, and yes, I know all the words, not just the “land of the free and the home of the brave” part. It is an honor to sing the national anthem, one I do not pass up when given the opportunity. I know the first verse the best, I’m a little rough on the 2nd and 3rd but I love the 4th verse because it reminds me of the good men and women I have known who honorably served their country.
O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation.
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Today is a special Veterans Day for me. I now have two of them in my family, my dad and my oldest son. My boy recently finished his time with the Air Force and is officially a veteran. I am very proud of him and his honorable service. I want to thank my son and my father as well as all the vets out there for all you have done for me, my country, my family; for our liberty, our honor, and our peace.
God Bless Us All & God Bless the United States of America
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