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Why do you serve?

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- On Dec. 30, 1776, Gen. George Washington brought together the revolutionary forces on a low ridge along the south side of the Assunpink Creek near Trenton, N.J.

It was a cold winter, and the soldiers of the Continental Army had been engaged in combat with the British Army for several months. All the soldiers of the Continental Army were volunteers and most of their enlistments ended on Jan. 1, 1777. Washington knew this Army was needed to continue the battle against the British, so he offered an additional $10 for all who would extend their enlistment another six months. None volunteered.

At this moment Washington wheeled his horse about and stated, "My brave fellows, you have done all I asked you to do, and more than could be reasonably expected, but your country is at stake, your wives, your houses and all that you hold dear. You have worn yourselves out with fatigues and hardships, but we know not how to spare you. If you will consent to stay one month longer, you will render that service to the cause of liberty and to your country, which you can probably never do under any other circumstance."

The call for volunteers went out again and this time the ranks were filled with men willing to fight for the cause of liberty. Ultimately, this volunteer Continental Army defeated the British Army and provided us the unsurpassable freedom and liberty we experience as citizens of the United States of America.

As we celebrate the birth of our country, let us take a moment and remember why we have chosen to serve. Some have entered military service for job experience, education or employment. Others feel a desire to fulfill a higher calling and truly defend the liberties and freedoms granted by citizenship in this great nation.

Whatever your reason for entering military service, recognize that you are now part of a greater good, and you must provide for the national security of America and protect those freedoms and liberties for all citizens as our forefathers did so honorably for us.

When situations surface that entice poor decision making, remember why you entered the military, the goals established in the beginning of your journey and the consequences of your actions. Did you enter the service with the intent of providing mediocre performance, failing a physical training assessment or receiving a driving under influence infraction? It is doubtful anyone chartered this course, but through neglect, complacency and poor decision making people find themselves suddenly facing a poor enlisted performance report, an Article 15 or even worse -- separation from the Air Force.

Take this time during the anniversary of our great nation to reassess your reason for military service and rededicate yourself to a higher calling of Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do.