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Love is... patriotism, espirit de corps, camaraderie

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (AFPN) -- Love may seem to be an odd topic for a commander’s editorial, but I think very often that while Airmen may not use the word, they demonstrate their love in the way they serve every day.

I submit that above all, by living out our core values, we show love for our country, our Air Force and our fellow Airmen before love of ourselves. 

First, in order to serve this great nation, we must love her deeply. 

Patriotism is an abstract concept for many people, but for those of us who wear the uniform of the republic, love of country is an absolute necessity. With our nation at war, her warriors must believe in the values that make this country great, or else our service becomes little more than mercenary. 

Our United States of America stands astride the road of history, and we, her warriors, have voluntarily placed our bodies between civilization and the abyss of our enemy.
We have been blessed to serve such a great republic.  No other country on earth can boast the freedoms that we enjoy here in America.  Freedom to say what we think, believe what we want, associate with whom we choose, elect our government, and own our own property are values that are not common in our world. 

Our enemies want to destroy our country and her civilization; Airmen who love their country are called to defend her. To love our country more than ourselves lifts our service from just a job to a vocation, a calling, and it lifts us from being merely “in it” for ourselves to warriors for a great republic fighting in the cause of freedom, for ideals larger than ourselves. 

Love of our Air Force is the way we express our espirit de corps, that intangible measure of the devotion of the Airmen in a certain squadron or wing. It manifests itself in the steely-eyed coolness of our aviators, the quiet technical professionalism of our maintainers, the can-do spirit of our combat support Airmen, and the selfless care of our medics. 

We hear it in our squadron yells and we see it in the pride when we sing The Air Force Song. Espirit de corps, literally “soul of the body,” expresses the energy, pride and morale of any warrior. 

To love the Air Force is to give life to that soul of our service. The animation we give to our service makes us the best in the world, and inspires our fellow Airmen to greater feats of arms. 

The final love is love of our fellow Airmen. 

As much as we love our country and our Air Force, during the most extreme moments we fight for each other. Our training often bonds us through shared hardship, and the crucible of combat is the fire that hardens our steel. 

Somewhere between the mundane tasks of everyday missions and the second-by-second terror of a street fight in Baghdad, we learn that our love for each other is what binds us most deeply.