The Air Force Birthday was yesterday, not a significant milestone year, but a marker nonetheless. As a young officer, not much was done to celebrate the date. In fact, I didn’t know much about service birthdays until I served alongside some Marines and got to witness their observances. Boy, did they do it justice. Then the attitude changed within my own service and we started to do something similar. When I retired, one of my last duties was to lead an observance of the Air Force birthday…and as the oldest member present in my joint unit I handed the knife over to the youngest member, so they could cut a nicely decorated cake. For me, the passing of responsibility was even more symbolic than a mere handoff of traditions—I was turning over my future freedom to an organization I would no longer be a part of.
I haven’t thought much about celebrating the Air Force birthday since then…apparently my transition to civilian is complete. But this year, for some reason, I’m thinking about it. Maybe it’s the noise of a trainer jet over my house while on its landing approach. Maybe it’s a storyline I’ve got running through my head. Maybe I kinda miss it a little bit. But only a little, more the camaraderie than anything else. I haven’t been on a base in a while, so maybe I just need to go visit…sit at a picnic table and eat lunch while I watch the hustle and bustle, listen to the screaming engines, and smell the JP8 jet fuel exhaust.
So, Happy Birthday USAF…I’ll see you soon.