By Airman 1st Class Emily Arthur
50th Security Forces Squadron
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — During the weeks of Air Force basic training, you start off wearing civilian clothes. Day one, you wear what you wore the night before as it was your last night of “freedom.”
I remember nervously grasping the seat in front of me as we drove onto Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, and heard the yelling from outside the bus. We ran into the training building; we ran to each of the buses; we ran everywhere. Every day of training until we were issued our uniforms, we had to wear our civilian clothes. As a trainee, I felt like there was a target on my back. We were the new kids.
As training went on, the Military Training Instructor would show us facing movements and the basic fundamentals of being in the military. I remember one specific night, our flight of females had to do physical training because we couldn’t work together as a team. We got yelled at by other noncommissioned officers and were made to do push-ups because we couldn’t do the basics.
The MTIs showed us we were held to a higher standard. They held up the torch for us to follow. In that moment, it clicked for me. This uniform makes us unique. A civilian doesn’t understand what it means when you salute your first officer, or you march with your team to graduation, as you grab your coin and finally realize that all the sweat and pain and memorizing ranks and procedures finally paid off. You have to earn the right to be an American Airman.
You learn of the history of those who died in the uniform you wear on your back daily. For me, having a family line of military members and some who died in the service, it means a great deal. I am following in their legacy and my own. You become unique because you chose to be and that is the great accomplishment. That is why I wear the uniform.