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NEWS | Feb. 28, 2008

Stop, stand and respect

By Master Sgt. Sheri Jordan 710th Combat Operations Squadron

It's Friday night at Langley. As the "5 o'clock whistle blows," you hear the patriotic sounds of the National Anthem echoing throughout the air. 

You stand proudly, in silence, rendering the best salute of your career to honor our country and fellow servicemembers, and as you hear the music, the words to the song ring in your mind. 

Then your thoughts shift to those Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines who have died serving our country. Then another shift to the people who are overseas, separated from their family and friends, in harms way or just on temporary duty. 

All of a sudden, you notice the steady flow of vehicles driving 35 to 40 miles per hour and people quickly walking to their cars and searching for their escape routes, hoping no one is watching them, and if someone is watching, hoping the person who spotted them won't say anything or try to stop them.

Many years ago, I had a fantastic mentor that often said that your character is defined by doing the right thing even when no one is looking. "Doing the right thing for the right reason" is a cornerstone of what we, as Airmen, believe in. Retreat is a prime example of that - stopping and paying respect to our country, flag and ourselves.

I share this perspective with you hoping that Airmen, spouses and family members will take 60 seconds out of their day to pay respect to our flag and all it symbolizes. Let's leave the outdated feelings that retreat is an inconvenience, a time robber or a burden. Retreat truly gives us a brief opportunity to pause for a small moment in time and remember to give thanks for the freedom we have as Americans and for the brave men and women who sacrifice their lives and limbs to protect our nation.

As an Air Force family, we have a unique privilege and honor to say that we make a difference around the globe and here at our home station. We all have the same 86,400 seconds in our day that makes up our journey. Let's pause, because life's not about what we have, where we've been, or what we've done; it's about the journey. It's about enjoying life and becoming a better person through our experiences and choices. Let's choose to pause for a brief moment to pay tribute to our fellow servicemen and women and the wonderful country we live in.

As we go on with our busy lives, hurrying from place to place, let us stop and reflect about the way we felt when returning to American soil after a long deployment or overseas assignment. Wow, we're finally home, we're safe -- what a relief, we're home! Let's celebrate our freedom by respecting retreat.