A time to serve, a time to honor

  • Published
  • By John Ingle
  • 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs
At first glance it was nothing more than a few hundred -- possibly a thousand -- gathered on a North Texas football field Oct. 6 at half time.

By this time, most fans would've been heading down to the nearest concession stand to quench their thirst or relieve the hunger pangs they've been fighting since the opening kickoff ... especially after an exciting first half of football that had the visiting West Texas A&M University Buffaloes leading the Midwestern State University Mustangs 14-10. But they stayed.

Most high school or college students dream about such an event -- standing on the field with nothing but stadium lights and eyes glaring down. For Airmen, Soldiers and Sailors from Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, and Fort Sill, Okla., this was their Super Bowl. This was their time to shine.

But above all, it was their time to be honored.

Thousands of people from Sheppard's surrounding communities and guests from Canyon, Texas, the location of WTAMU, perhaps showed up to watch two undefeated college football teams battle it out for supremacy in the Lone Star Conference match up. Possibly it was just to get out of the house and escape the doldrums of boredom.

Oct. 6, when the final seconds of the first half ticked off the clock and each beating heart of our nation's military might took the field, personal reasons for attending the game for all of those in the stands must have disappeared as the wind whipped through the line of Air Force Junior ROTC cadets, each holding Old Glory.

Thoughts of political ideologies surely vanished as the faces of America's fighting force appeared on the field before them -- each of them determined, each of the trained, each of them ready for service. Nevertheless, most were still perhaps only a year or two removed from high school. Certainly a time when some are figuring out who and what they want to be.

For this formation and thousands of other Airmen, Soldiers and Sailors, they decided they were to be protectors of freedom and ambassadors of democracy.

And so it went that men and women, young and old, stood and erupted in cheers to honor the ones who will continue to fight for the principles this nation has stood for since before it was even a nation. Tears surely formed in those who felt a deep sense of pride for those who have chosen to, if necessary, pay the ultimate price to ensure their individual freedoms are preserved.

The military was honored Oct. 6, not because someone told them to do so, but because it was right. The face of the Global War on Terror isn't an Iraqi insurgent or al Qaeda fighter. It's not the political agendas that run rampant across the country -- although that, too, is something preserved by our warriors.

The face of this war, of this military, was seen in the young men and women who lined a North Texas football field in early October, not seeking to be honored. Rather, their desire is simply to serve.