Friday, May 27, 2011

A Reminder of Days Forgotten

It was in another time and in another place. The past and the present mingled yesterday during a retirement ceremony for a USAF colonel who retired after 25 years of service.

The day was sobered by the arrival of the remains of  25 year old soldier who was killed in Afghanistan about a week ago enroute to his final resting place in Centennial, Colorado--a juxtaposition of time and space. On hero retiring after 25 years of service with his wife and family present--the other hero returning home after giving his all for this nation to be greeted by his family and friends and remembered for his sacrifice.

And there in the middle was me.

For it was 25 years ago that both the colonel who was retiring retiring and the general who was the officiating officer at the retirement ceremony were my students at school at the now closed Lowry AFB, and remembered me and the school to everyone during the ceremony. I felt very conspicuous.

I was at the same time honored and felt old.

For I too have served our nation, retiring after 21 years of service--and I still serve in a different capacity.

It was a very different experience for me to see students remembering me at the end of their first and the  beginning their second career.

I recalled those days a quarter century ago--of teaching and managing courses for the Air Force and trying to be the best instructor and instructor supervisor possible, while also being creative with the curriculum. It was during the middle of my career in the Air Force.

As I listened to 25 years of service recounted for the assembled people there to celebrate the turning of a page of life, I reflected upon my own Air Force career--it seems so long ago and yet it was only yesterday. My family was still young--and I had dreams of making my mark on the world without fully realizing then that making a mark is not something done in a splashy way--but by what we do every day.

It was truly another time and another place.

Memories and reality. Celebration and mourning. 

It was a very different day, after all.

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