We stood in lines and raised our right
hands, and then all of a sudden we weren’t kids anymore. It’s not that we
grew up. We just knew we had to be different now. When they say, “repeat after
me” and you state your name, it sounds like a mess. A bunch of voices saying
their names, at the same time, all proud of who they are. By the end of the oath,
you’re one voice, all proud of what you share. The oath is our bond that brings
all Airmen together. We solemnly swore that we would support and defend the
Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Maybe a lot of us had never even read
the Constitution, but that piece of paper we swore to defend spelled out
everything America was capable of: the greatness that was yet to come,
freedoms, rights, powers, duties, responsibilities… that’s what we were
defending. And now, you’ve taken that oath. You swore to do what was required of you.
What is required will be more than you thought you had. You will be given
boundaries and borders, but you will also be shown horizons. Your duty is to
achieve the impossible. Your orders are to conquer fears, do things we couldn’t
dream of. Your orders are not to live up to some romantic idea of what we were or
to drag our memory with you like a weight. Your orders are to let us carry you to
places we couldn’t find. Your duty is to your country. Your duty is to be an
Airman. The oath is not a limitation. It’s a starting gun. You have not sworn to do
what so many brave men and women have done before. You’ve sworn to do what no
one has done before. Do not repeat after us. Do better.
Aim high, Airman.