Reflections on Military Service

  • Published
  • By U.S. Air Force Maj. Adam Cross, 422nd Communications Squadron commander

We all joined the military for our own reasons. Some of us wanted to pay for school, get access to great benefits for our families, or find financial stability. Others wanted to see the world or even lead troops in combat. Despite the varied motivations which brought us together, one trait we now share is our service to the American people. We should, from time to time, reflect on the uniqueness of military service and the reasons we have to both be proud of what we do and humbled by the responsibility it carries. Our choice to serve requires us to maintain high standards, but also enables the foundational ideas on which our nation was built.

As members of the profession of arms, the American people have entrusted us with resources and authorities beyond those available to civilians. Because of this, we hold ourselves to higher standards of conduct, competency, and character. Our leaders should demand it.  Our subordinates deserve it. We should train and strive to be above reproach in all we do, in everything from spending taxpayer dollars to engaging targets on the battlefield. The actions we take represent not only ourselves, but also the millions of people whom we serve.  They expect the very best from us because of the flag we wear on our uniforms. It is our responsibility to do that flag justice by conducting ourselves professionally; competently and aggressively executing our missions; and displaying the highest degree of moral character.

We should be proud to uphold these high standards, and realize in doing so we help enable our nation’s two-hundred-year-old experiment in democracy. We should embrace our apolitical role in serving our elected officials and take pride that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves—something with noble goals and a rich history of heroes and honor. We should hold dear our pledge to go into harm’s way on behalf of others when called to do so. The efforts and sacrifices we make defend the Constitution, which codifies the fundamental tenets of our way of life: human rights, freedom, and the rule of law. Today, these concepts are being attacked and undermined by competitors who seek to turn the world down a different path. We should be ready to fight for these beliefs with our ideas, example, and if necessary, our weapons. This will ultimately drive the world to be a better place.

Serving in the U.S. military is a special privilege. It is inextricably tied to the deepest roots of our country. The expectations are high, but so is the satisfaction in knowing what we do truly matters. As we reflect on this, let it motivate us to be the best men and women we can be, do our jobs as best we can, and wear the flag with pride.