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Serving to make a difference

  • Published
  • By Rob Bardua
  • National Museum of the United States Air Force Public Affairs
What does an 18-year-old and a 90-year-old have in common? Your first impression might be, "not too much," however, you might be surprised to find out that they are both serving our country today.

For nearly 60 years, the U.S. Air Force has exemplified the core value of "service before self." This concept of putting aside one's personal interests for the good of many may seem strange to some, but it is clearly one of the bonds that has united the American spirit since the birth of our nation.

From the Revolutionary War to today's Global War on Terror, thousands have courageously and honorably served our country without hesitation to protect our liberties, sometimes even sacrificing their lives with the hope of making the world a better place.

Serving others with the hope of making the world a better place is hardly glamorous. It often involves long hours, with little or no pay and notoriety, but it is something that we all can do to some degree.

Today's young Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines who serve in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world, have accepted the torch of freedom from their fathers and grandfathers who served in Korea and World War II. They are risking everything by putting themselves in harm's way so that their children and grandchildren can live in the land of opportunity.

Although we can't thank and honor them nearly enough for their service, that is exactly what the men and women who work and volunteer at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force strive to do for Airmen each day.

Just as the U.S. Air Force serves the nation, the museum works to return the favor in its own unique way by paying tribute to all those who have served the Air Force in the past, as well as those serving now, and helping to educate those who will serve tomorrow.

Each of the museum's aircraft, dioramas, and artifacts portray a special story of service, and it is the men and women of the museum who ensure that those stories of integrity, duty, and selflessness live on.

So what does an 18-year-old and a 90-year-old have in common? They each have sacrificed so much to serve in the military to defend our country. They also happen to be the ages of two of the museum's more than 460 loyal volunteers who come in the name of service from as far away as Illinois and Pennsylvania because of their appreciation for those who served them.

The spirit of service at the museum is truly amazing and one does not have to be here long to realize that this is a very special place. With more than one million visitors a year, the museum is always looking for more volunteers, and it doesn't take much to make a difference.

But it doesn't matter where you serve, as long as you are serving because that is what sets America apart. And no matter if you are you are military, civilian, or contractor, service in the name of freedom should be the duty of us all.