Airman 1st Class Luis M. Salcedo
4th Space Operations Squadron
I am not a morning person to be honest, I would categorize myself as an afternoon person. Mornings are a struggle for me and usually end up taking on the look of a dogfight between sleep and myself. My resolve and a stubborn and competitive fortitude enabled me to shake the desire to remain in bed until midday. But, all the griping and moaning, the buildup of nasal congestion accumulated throughout the night, and the fury generated in my heart from the sound of my alarm clock instantly dissipates the moment I put on the uniform of the U.S. Air Force. Indeed I am a part of the select few, who have answered the call of their country, to serve and protect the basic freedoms we as a nation hold so dear, and fight to uphold. The uniform means more than just being part of the less than 1 percent of Americans who have the honor of serving in the U.S. Air Force. For me, it is the epitome of the American ideal. Regardless of race, religion, or creed, the U.S. Air Force affords an individual the opportunity to advance within its structure to whatever heights the individual chooses based upon merit and personal excellence assuring bigotry and prejudice will not hinder such aspirations.
I am a first generation United States American citizen. My parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico at a fairly young age. My mother with her family during early grade school and my father came as a young adult. Both came to this country under different circumstances but for the same purpose, for the hope of making a life in a nation full of promise and opportunity, which may not have been possible where they were born. America offered my family hope and has given them everything they have, albeit with hard work and determination. I am thankful to this country and I know that these opportunities were not given, they were fought for by many and have been defended by more so others can enjoy basic freedoms which others around the world are denied or have died fighting to achieve. These freedoms are not just realized, they are constantly protected with the intention of preserving them for future generations. For obvious reasons, I find this fight important not only to thank this nation that has given so much to my family, but to ensure that when I start a family, my children and their children will have the same opportunities I had and more. Wearing the uniform reminds me of that struggle and serves as motivation for me in my Air Force career. So wherever my career takes me, I know the hard work I put in will be judged according to the criteria and ideals set forth by the U.S. Air Force.
Uniforms serve the purpose of helping to identify members of an organization. They help create a sense of togetherness, a community of sorts. The uniform of the U.S. Air Force achieves this same objective but, with a purpose that can carry a burden, which not many are willing to assume. I took that burden and have not looked back. The appreciation and the words of adulation from civilians I get when in uniform are kind but, the real satisfaction is knowing that I am making a difference and playing a part in upholding my country’s rights and freedoms. That is why I wear the uniform.