Straight Talk: Armed Forces Day

  • Published
  • By Col. Stacy L. Yike
  • 66th Air Base Group commander
May 21 is Armed Forces Day, an event celebrated each year on the third Saturday of May.

The day was created in 1949 to honor Americans serving in the five U.S. military branches following the consolidation of the military services in the Department of Defense. Prior to that, each military service set aside its own day to celebrate. This year's Armed Forces Day theme, "United In Strength," reflects the original intent of the day while recognizing that today our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are united in strength across the world in defense of our nation and our freedom.

This national holiday should not go by without us pausing to think about all the sacrifices our military members and their families have made over the past year. The civilians and contractors at Hanscom and across Electronic Systems Center are key team members who can be proud of all they do to help put important, war-winning capabilities into the hands of our Warfighters. Indeed, every one of us has chosen to follow a path to serve our country, not ourselves.

As I reflect on Armed Forces Day, I am thankful for the devotion and sacrifices of all who have worn the uniform and those who serve today. In my interaction over the past year, I am honored to hear how often those same sentiments are expressed by the local community, from both its citizens and leaders. We are fortunate to serve in an area with such a steep appreciation for military service with roots in the original formation our military.

Attending my first Patriots Day activities in April, I saw firsthand how our local communities celebrate the rich history of this area and the legacy of our first American military members, reenacting the "shot heard 'round the world" and honoring the bravery of our Minutemen at the battles of Lexington and Concord. And soon, every town and city will pause for Memorial Day to honor the sacrifices of those brave men and women who have given their lives for our freedom.

Citizens from the North Shore have been working hard to raise money and gather resources for several years so they can put on a huge "Veterans' Appreciation Day" Parade on June 4 beginning at 10 a.m. in Swampscott, Mass. Along with the parade, there will be static displays, interactive military displays, a Blackhawk helicopter, food, live music and more. It promises to be a great day for the entire family. I'm looking forward to attending and representing the Air Force. I hope you will be there too.

But this weekend, I urge you to pause and think about our more than two million brave service members, and how we are united in strength, with one common purpose: to preserve our freedom and defend this great country. Thank you for your service.