Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Price of Freedom

Last night, my squadron held a "hail and farewell", a little unit social event where we welcome newcomers and recognize those who are leaving. Since we recycle bodies about every 2 years, it's pretty common to have these about every 2-3 months or so. Normally a formality (and a somewhat boring one at that), last night was different.

One of the pilots leaving is going on to the Thunderbirds, the Air Force's jet demo team. Last night was POW/MIA day, a national day of recognition for American prisoners of war and missing in action. He talked a little about his dad, who was shot down over Vietnam and lost. Only two years ago were his remains found and laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. He spoke eloquently, but briefly about growing up never knowing his father. Although his father was never in his life, his memory and his sacrifice was. There wasn't a dry eye in the room.

Maybe it was just the German beer. Who knows, but the idea that a boy growing up never knowing his dad, yet following his footsteps in honorable service to his country just about brought me to tears. It is an amazing thing, this business of ours.

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