I grew up in Wyoming as part of a family that had a strong tradition of military service – my grandfather, father, and several brothers and sisters have served in the Armed Forces. This instilled within me a strong sense of patriotism and pride in our country. When I joined the Air Force, I found several things that stuck with me throughout my life. First and foremost I found a second family. I also found that the call to serve has nothing to do with where someone is from. Well off or poor, man or woman, young or old, I met people from all over the world, and all were bound by a sense of honor, pride and self-sacrifice. All voluntarily gave of themselves so that others could live their lives in the manner that they choose. I served with people every day that sacrificed their own lives so that others could live theirs. This is a lesson that I will always remember. As I watch the unprecedented and far-reaching impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our communities, our nation, and the world, I am again reminded of those that serve. First responders, nurses, doctors and essential personnel of every kind are once again facing the unknown so that the rest of us can continue to live our lives. While Memorial Day is intended to honor those that have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our great nation, it is just as important to take a moment to remember those that continue to serve. Just as there are countless reasons to serve, there are countless ways in which people contribute every day to make our lives and our communities better. Memorial Day to me means ensuring that their service does not go unnoticed and that their sacrifices are acknowledged and respected. Memorial Day to me means that we remember those that think of others before they think of themselves because our families, our communities and our country would not be what they are without them.
– John Netterfield, Air Force