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Take time to pay respect

F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo. -- I was driving to work the other day when the first note to reveille sounded and I was stunned at what I saw. I won't go into detail as to where I was located, but when reveille sounded, there were several active-duty members and civilians running for the door for fear they would have to stand outside in the cold for a couple of minutes while reveille and "To the Colors" played. 

While I was sitting in my car, an active-duty member drove by rushing to work. I was pretty disgusted to think they could not have waited and paid proper respect to the flag and to those who have fallen. Unfortunately, you always see it. On the first note of retreat, you will see someone rushing to get in the door or people will huddle at the exit until they know for sure retreat and the national anthem have finished playing. 

Have we forgotten what these two ceremonies are all about? Yes, they mark the beginning and the end of the duty day, but they are also short ceremonies to pay proper respect to the flag. 

Let us first look at what the flag stands for. 

The previous 90th Space Wing career adviser wrote, "The flag stands for the people, the people who have served and given their lives for this country. The 13 stripes represented a new constellation, a new nation dedicated to the personal and religious liberty of mankind. The colors of the flag symbolize the patriotic ideals and spiritual qualities of the citizens of America. It is a symbol of our nation's laws, the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights." 

Our flag also stands for the freedom each and every one of us enjoys in this great nation -- the freedom other countries want, but dictators keep them from getting. The men and women of this great nation are willing to fight and die for our freedom, not only for our country but for others. 

We have currently lost more than 3,000 military service men and women who are fighting to give these same freedoms to a country and its people who don't want more bloodshed. We lost 58,000 men and women in Vietnam, 50,000 in Korea and 500,000 in World War II trying to provide these same freedoms to other countries. Let us also not forget the prisoners of war and those missing in action. 

As Americans, we take for granted the country that we live in, but it only takes one deployment to the Middle East or any other part of the world to really understand we live in the best country in the world. The next time you hear reveille or retreat, don't rush inside and don't wait in the shoppette or BX breezeway for the finish of the national anthem. Instead, stand proud of the fact that you are an American, and pay proper respect to the flag and to all the men and women who have died to give us our freedoms that make us proud to be Americans.