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What is in your DASH?

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Every so often in life you come across something that has a profound impact on the way you think about life. I recently came upon one of those moments when I caught a glimpse of a poem that was half-torn from a magazine in an office I was visiting.

The few verses I could make out were so profound that I went on a Google crusade to find out more about the story and the author. I mean, I must have searched for days, trying every combination of words I could think of to get that magical combination of searches that would unlock my quest! I finally found it and when I got to read the entire thing, I was even more inspired by its content.

The story is called "The Dash," by Linda Ellis, and what it says about living a full life of happiness and service to others is probably more touching than anything you'll ever read. It's also ironic that this story would come to mind right now as we are just around the corner from Thanksgiving.

Once I found it, I was on a mission to put it in this article, but then I thought maybe it would be a copyright infringement. So let me just say this,if you've never read it, please do; it talks about people's lives and how they spend them. It's a compelling story of a eulogy and the fact that when you pass, your birth date and death date are separated by a dash and it's what you do within the dash that creates your legacy for life.

Even after reading it 100 times, I come away with a new take each time. The one theme I consistently leave with is the fact that as military members, we are filling our dash, but couldn't so much more go in there and isn't this the perfect time to be thinking about doing so? As servants to our nation serving in the Air Force, you could easily make the case that the dash is full enough. We keep our nation safe and that alone is quite a responsibility. However, I'd like to challenge you to think of other ways to overflow the dash and the holiday season is the perfect opportunity.

Over the next few months there will be plenty of chances to provide happiness to others and find good ways to fill the dash. Make it your charter to serve others by volunteering, making donations or just showing support to those who need a lift. Regardless of how you choose to "fill it up," know it is people like you who have the ability to brighten someone's day and make our community a better place to live, work and play.