Beneath the Air Force Memorial

These are fields of honor spread out beneath the Air Force Memorial.

There is a great deal of history here, a great deal of valor and sacrifice, stretching back through the corridors of time to the Civil War itself. The trees are peaking in their color and once again the seasons shift as time progresses. There is in the midst of the passage of time, something timeless about Arlington - the values that lead men and women to serve country even with the risk that such service may call forth the ultimate price. It is humbling to be part of what Arlington is about. Arlington is far more than the trees, and the green fields; the new crisp stones and the weathered ones; more than the view. As I share in each service, "this is hallowed ground, hallowed by the service and sacrifice of those who are buried here."

Hallowed is an ancient word, far older than Arlington, but likely not more ancient than war and struggle to defend oneself and one's loved ones against oppression and tyranny. Hallowed means to be set apart and above for a special and unique purpose. In religious though it pertain that which is sacred and of the realm of God. But there is a hallowedness to military service as well. For military service is first and foremost service. For the Air Force, this expressed in one of our core values "service before self". Arlington is ground set aside to recognize, honor, and inscribe in stone the remembrance of those who gave their life in that service. In my opinion, the honor is not bestowed through burial here, but recognized. The honor is bestowed in the faithful service of those who buried here.

I am blessed to work along side every day some of the most dedicated and honorable people I have ever known. I'll also admit than when I walk or drive through the pathways of the cemetery, I smile when I see the arches of the Air Force Memorial rising up over the treeline of this ground - for each arch reminds me of a core value that I truly believe are more than just words for the Air Force - but are truly lived by our service members every day: integrity, excellence in all we do, and service before self. Those arches remind me of why I am here. They challenge to rise and meet their challenge for service.