The uniform: More than a garment

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Joshua Chapman
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
As an American Airman, I, like all military personnel, swore an allegiance to my country. I swore to protect the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic; I swore to bear true faith and allegiance to the same. I never had any idea, however, how much those words would transform me. Nor was I aware of how much growth was required to fit into the trim of a United States Air Force uniform.

The moment that I raised my right hand and pledged my servitude to the United States of America, I took one of the greatest risks I could have taken: I levied my life to the service of my nation. In doing so I've promised to sacrifice my selfish desires in favor of a more just cause.

It's difficult, if not impossible, to discount the absolute importance of the service that we offer to fellow citizens of America. Our role in national defense allows hundreds of millions of Americans to live productively throughout the day and to sleep peacefully at night (or vice-versa depending on your situation). It's because of the absolute importance to national security that our Air Force asks so much of us, and requires such a high level of moral caliber.

Knowing that, throughout my service I've made many mistakes both in and out of uniform. Some mistakes have been trivial in matter, others have been more substantial. But I continue to work through my trials, and I continue to grow beyond my mistakes. There are times when I want to give up (and I don't think that I'm alone here), and other times when I feel compelled to fight.

It is through my weaknesses that the service has taught me the indispensable value of acting with courage, bravery and perseverance. Giving up is simply not an option; furthermore, it isn't consistent with our core values.

I realize now that the uniform has become an integral part of my oath, and I regret any times I have performed poorly in it. While each and every member of the armed forces dedicates their life to the service of our country, each of us becomes a symbol of something much larger than ourselves.

People throughout the world, including citizens within the United States, look upon every one of us as a static symbol of hope and justice. That's why it's so very important for us to conduct ourselves with the highest moral character while in uniform - so that American citizens can confidently say, "I feel safe in their hands."

When I look through photos of military men and women in uniform from throughout our 60-year heritage, I feel an ultimate sense of pride and admiration. I know that each of them has dedicated their life the same way that we have. Each has exercised a right and civic duty to serve their country with integrity, and most have done so brilliantly. It's because of them, our service's past members, that we the members of the United States Air Force have the incredible support from the community that we do. And it's our job to make sure that future of our Air Force shares the same gratitude through leading the charge with fortitude.