Commentary by Col. Nina Armagno
21st Operations Group commander
Have you ever been run off the road by another vehicle as you’re pulling over to respect reveille or retreat? Have you ever seen someone lose their patience while waiting in line to enter the base? Have you ever heard vocal complaints as you wait to get your prescription refilled?
If your answer to any of these questions is yes, you’ve been witness to someone who has lost perspective. They have lost the understanding that service is a privilege. Serving others, serving our country and experiencing the benefits of taxpayer dollars is a privilege that comes with service in the United States military.
There has been no greater time in the history of our country, perhaps since the ticker tape parades of World War II, to serve the United States of America. The American public trusts us, they respect us, and regardless of their political affiliation, they are grateful for our sacrifice and service. We should be proud of our service, but we should never forget…it is a privilege.
I was struck by this concept as I was wandering around the commissary on a Saturday afternoon, admittedly not my favorite thing to be doing on a Saturday. My mind was elsewhere as I was looking high on the shelves, trying to find couscous in the bread isle. If you know what couscous is, you know I was way off.
Anyway, I must’ve wandered into the main aisle when this commissary shopping cart almost clocked me. Behind it was a very angry, very vocal and very aggressive cart driver. I said something like “Excuse me,” as she cursed and bumped her way down the aisle.
The incident got me thinking: if she doesn’t like shopping in the commissary, she can leave. Then I began thinking … if she doesn’t appreciate the privilege of shopping at the commissary, she should leave. Shopping there, with its reduced prices and easy base access, is a privilege. It’s a privilege subsidized by American tax payers. In principle, American tax payers think enough of us on Peterson AFB that they are willing to pay taxes out of their own pockets to help offset the cost of groceries for us. Wow. That’s humbling.
It doesn’t stop with groceries. In fact, take a look around. Our uniforms, offices, training, body armor, weapons, fitness centers, child care, medical care, base homes, water, and heat…everything we need to live, work and get the job done…is subsidized.
Double wow. Humbling indeed, and we are privileged to receive it.
This sense of privilege is ever expanding: It’s a privilege to have been selected to serve in the defense of this; our great nation. It’s a privilege to learn a skill, conduct a mission and lead Airmen. We are entrusted with the lives of those we lead and those we protect, and that may be the greatest privilege of all. So, the next time you hear reveille or retreat, stop and pay proper respects: Take a moment to appreciate the meaning of it, and remember those in harm’s way who cannot enjoy the privileges we sometimes take for granted.