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Service and Thanksgiving

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

As members of the greatest nation and the world’s greatest air force, we certainly have much to be thankful for.

While hunger, conflict and strife rage around the world, we in Columbus live in relative peace and prosperity.

While none of us are free from problems, our concern for our next meal consists of finding something in the refrigerator or deciding which restaurant to go to. When we lay down at night, rarely do we worry about our security. We rest, knowing we are safe.

In Northern Ireland, the city of Belfast’s Coat of Arms Motto is “Pro tanto quid retribuamus,” or “What shall we give in return for so much?” As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, I would suggest we each take a moment to ask, “What are we thankful for?” or in other words, “What shall we give in return for so much?” I would submit each of us is already giving, so while we are celebrating the sacrifices of those who have gone before us, let’s also take time to celebrate the contributions we have each made, and are making.

While most of us are enjoying relative peace and prosperity, we must not forget there are many among us not as well off. Helping them is a great way to express appreciation for what we have and quite frankly will benefit us as well.

So I challenge each of us to think of one or two opportunities this season to do a little more service for those around us. It doesn’t have to be grand, just fitting to a need. The great thing about true service is it benefits not only the one receiving, but the giver as well. It makes us better Airmen.

An important part of leadership is to recognize the “Service Before Self” being done by those around us. As leaders, it is our job to be an example of service and gratitude for those we lead. Our ultimate gift to those that follow us will not be the legacy of our individual accomplishments, but our part in the “Service Before Self” tapestry our ancestors created.

If we are able to successfully pass on this tradition, along with our other two core values, we will continue to be the greatest air force, in the greatest nation on earth for generations to come.