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  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Carlos Chavez
  • 6th Maintenance Squadron first sergeant
Service means what to you? Is it serving food at a barbecue? Or is it serving those in need at a homeless shelter? They are both service. How does it relate to the uniform you wear every single day?

The uniform is a symbol of your service and you are the instrument who carries it out. Service has its origins dating back to the 13th century, derived from the Latin term servitium. Webster's Dictionary defines it as "the work performed by one that serves."

We all made a choice to serve our great nation at one time in our lives. When you signed the contract did you ever realize what you did? You made a commitment to serve the most powerful military in the world. You took an oath to serve your country and, if necessary, make the ultimate sacrifice. Service is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. Our nation depends on us to deliver mission accomplishments every single day. We serve a purpose to preserve freedom and protect the flag at all costs.

You are a public servant of this great country. You are not a civilian - you are a symbol of freedom.

When you look down you see your name tapes, one says your last name and the other says "U.S. Air Force." I like to refer to the U.S. as us, a team of dedicated professionals fighting for the United States of America; committed to serving the national interest of our country.

I believe we serve because we have an inherent sense of pride and professionalism to do our best and execute the mission. For example, when you deploy you see the pride of the U.S. sister services working together, serving as one team and ensuring mission success. Whether it's making sure the aircraft launch on time or the base perimeter is secured. Each task you're doing is service with pride and distinction - producing one of our core values - excellence in all we do.

To personalize this, I feel proud to be serving my country. I am pleased to know that more than 320,000 Airmen, soldiers, sailors, Marines and coast guardsman felt the same way I did when they went into a recruiter's office and said "I want to serve."

We are asked to do a lot, but that is what makes us unique and separate. As an organization, we are selfless individuals serving a purpose and cause greater than all of us. As I reflect on my past 23 years of service, I ask Airmen "Why did you choose to serve?" Young men and women sign up to serve our great country with a similar goal. Some say it is because family members wore the uniform at some point. It is a way to honor their service. Others say they joined because they wanted to serve their country or get an education.

Whatever reason drove you - you made a sacrifice to serve our country in the profession of arms.

When someone approaches you and thanks you for serving, always remember what you do every single day. You serve a greater cause than yourself and everyone appreciates it.
To those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, we salute you and will never forget. Thank you for serving!