Service, above all

  • Published
  • By Maj. Kurt B. Schuh
  • ISR Assignment Facilitator
For centuries men and women have answered the call of service to their nation. President John F. Kennedy's speech inspired generations when he challenged Americans "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." 

One of President Kennedy's first acts was the creation of the Peace Corps. Americans would volunteer to help improve underdeveloped nations around the world. 

What has happened to the American spirit of service? Is it possible the "Gotta have it now" of consumerism has affected our values. Has the "Show me the Money" crowd stolen the limelight in American culture? Or have we just failed to inspire the youth of this country? 

No matter what the cause, it seems that fewer Americans value service to our country. Today about 1 percent of our population serves in the military. 

One of the most impressive statements I have ever heard came during an awards ceremony at Lackland AFB, Texas. Chief Master Sgt. David Popp referred to the CEO's of the Air Force: the "Civilians, Enlisted and Officers." A successful team that through its service has provided peace and strength to our country. 

Our great nation has faced significant challenges since 9/11. Great sacrifices have been made by the Civilians, Enlisted, and Officers that serve this great nation. 

In 1936, a diplomat departing England for China was admonished about a Chinese curse - "May you live in interesting times." If so, our generation just as theirs has certainly witnessed that curse's fulfillment. 

We live in interesting times, and while issues that involve great controversy may swirl around America, this country is grounded by the cornerstone of service. All Americans depend upon our constitutional freedoms. Most Americans grasp the value of their freedoms, while many Americans are busy with the pursuit of individual success. 

At times, this nation may never truly appreciate all that your service provides for this country. All too often those who are serving next to you are the only ones that truly understand and appreciate your sacrifice. 

As we approach Memorial Day, I challenge you to pause from the noise of our country and this world. Take a moment to reflect and remember the sacrifices of the warriors far away from home and in harm's way, and the warrior's right next door, you who have answered our nations call: Those who serve ... the guardians of this nation's freedom.