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Pause and remember our veterans

  • Published
  • By General Bruce Carlson
  • Commander, Air Force Materiel Command
Today we call it Veterans Day. In years past it was called Armistice Day. But regardless of how we label it, it remains a day on which we pause to pay tribute to the Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who have served our country. By taking time to remember, we honor those who have made, and continue to make, sacrifices for our country.

Freedom has never come free of cost. For those who have put their lives on the line for our country, freedom has a special meaning that most people never know.

Ask a veteran who stormed Omaha Beach in World War II, who almost froze on Korea's Chosin Reservoir, who slogged through the steaming Mekong Delta in Vietnam or who is still fighting Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Iraq. These people know the meaning of freedom.

Since World War II, some 26 million Americans have patrolled the skies, guarded our shores and served on the flightlines, front lines, and supply lines. Right now, Airmen, including many from AFMC, are on alert around the clock on the Korean peninsula, or taking the fight to the enemy in the 100+-degree temperatures of the Middle East. The United States Air Force flies an average of 150 sorties a day over Iraq and 75 a day over Afghanistan -- sorties made possible by the AFMC military and civilian Airmen who deliver our warfighting capabilities on time and on cost.

But our Airmen's contributions are not limited to the battlefield. They are continually participating in many humanitarian efforts. The Air Force delivered more than 17,000 tons of supplies for victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Our Airmen have flown nearly 50,000 evacuees to safety and aeromedical evacuation teams airlifted thousands to treatment facilities. Our pararescuemen rescued more than 6,500 in the aftermath of those devastating storms.

As this year marks the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, fewer of the "greatest generation" remain. But because of those veterans past, we are free. And because of veterans present and future, we'll remain free.

Please join me this Veterans Day as we pause, remember and say thank you.