Every moment of each day is a moment in history

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Austin M. May
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
Typically, when attending a special function as a public affairs Airman, I can be found standing in the back with a camera, jotting notes for an upcoming article.

However, when I witnessed General William R. Looney III's induction into the Order of the Sword May 30, I was seated in the audience as an invited guest.

Sitting there among 299 other enlisted members, watching the commander of Air Education and Training Command have the highest honor the enlisted force can give bestowed upon him, it dawned on me that I was watching history in the making.

History was, in fact, a recurring theme of the entire experience, which began with an Enlisted Heritage Summit. There, those in attendance listened to a former prisoner of war recount his harrowing experiences during World War II. We were treated to a question-and-answer session with the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, and received a behind-the-scenes briefing on the Air Force's Enlisted Research Institute. At the formal event that evening, General Looney enthralled us with a historical tale of Valley Forge and a noncommissioned officer who may have influenced the course of this nation's history with a single act of selflessness.

When Chief Master Sgt. Malcolm McVicar, the Enlisted Research Institute' s director, told us of a new program they are using to collect the histories of today's Airmen, it occurred to me that while events such as General Looney's induction to the Order of the Sword are in fact historical, every single minute of every single day is history in the making.

Every time you wake up and put on your uniform, you are a part of this nation's history. You are part of the world's greatest Air Force, and you are part of a global struggle that will one day be featured in textbooks for generations to come. Even if your name or photos are never seen in lights or on the front page of the New York Times, your deeds, are being recorded for the world to study when you and I are long gone.

Never believe that your actions are not of historical significance.

At the Air Force Enlisted Heritage Hall at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., each generation of uniform worn by Airmen is on display, including the new Airman Battle Uniform. Even if you serve four years and move on, the very uniform you wear today is a major part of Air Force history. So when you put on either your old Battle Dress Uniform or your new Airman Battle Uniform, you are participating in either the end or beginning of an era.

One day you may speak of the days when unmanned aerial vehicles began slowly replacing our manned aircraft, taking pilots out of harm's way while still employing the most advanced technology in the world to win battles. Perhaps you will tell your grandchildren how you were there when the first stealth aircraft the world had ever seen retired and gave way to the new fighters of the future.

Even now, after only seven years of service, I can recall major shifts in the way our military operates. I remember the day, the exact moment, my technical school instructor informed us that terrorists had launched a major attack on America, and the changes that followed.

I remember, as a young airborne battle management systems operator before I cross trained, flying on the last aircraft to land as part of Operation Northern Watch, ending a 13-year operation and opening the door to the war we are currently fighting; a war hopefully our children and grandchildren will only read about in their history books.

Even the Airmen who I watched graduate from Basic Military Training last Friday are part of history. Those young men and women, and anyone else who has enlisted, reenlisted or recited their commissioning oath in the last seven years have answered their nation's call to arms in the midst of an ongoing struggle with no end in sight. In fact, not one single person in today's military has volunteered for service not fully knowing the risks of his or her service. That's a history to be proud of.

My job as a public affairs Airman is to tell the Air Force story to today's public, all the while preserving its history for generations to come. That story is your story.

You are Air Force history.

You are American history.