Strength in Diversity: Out of many, one

The Air Force broadly defines diversity as a composite of individual characteristics, experiences, and abilities consistent with the Air Force Core Values and the Air Force Mission. Air Force diversity includes but is not limited to: personal life experiences, geographic background, socioeconomic background, cultural knowledge, educational background, work background, language abilities, physical abilities, philosophical/spiritual perspectives, age, race, ethnicity, and gender.

The Air Force broadly defines diversity as a composite of individual characteristics, experiences, and abilities consistent with the Air Force Core Values and the Air Force Mission. Air Force diversity includes but is not limited to: personal life experiences, geographic background, socioeconomic background, cultural knowledge, educational background, work background, language abilities, physical abilities, philosophical/spiritual perspectives, age, race, ethnicity, and gender.

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Have you ever been struck anew by a reality that you're so aware of that it has lost its impact?

The other week while waiting in line at the Fort Meade dining facility I found myself musing over the fact we are a diverse military. That's one of those, "well, duh" kind of thoughts, but it was meaningful to me. I stood there in line and smiled at the crush of uniform colors proudly worn by Marines, Airmen, Soldiers and Sailors fresh out of basic training who were attending the Defense Information School to learn how to be professional communicators for our military.

In addition to the multi-service representation, there were men and women from a variety of cultural and racial backgrounds. The various skin and hair colors, body compositions and features of each service member stood out to me, yet at the same time they blended together into a small representation of the diversity of our armed forces. What a beautiful reminder of what makes our military, and our nation, great - people with backgrounds from all corners of the globe enriching the lives of those around them.

As these young troops interacted, there was no apparent regard for these obvious differences. They were not concerned with what branch of service, gender or skin tone someone was, and that's the way it should be. The sad truth is that only a hundred years ago what I have just described would not be a reality so common that it's often overlooked. We should all be grateful for how far we've come.

When I joined the Air Force I was confronted in a whole new way with the concept of diversity. Since then I have learned to not only appreciate it on a cultural level, but also on an operational level. The fact is our diversity is a force multiplier. Who we are, where we come from, our life experiences and our language abilities are just a few of the aspects of our military members that can have a positive impact on the mission.

While it's crucial we appreciate and celebrate the beauty of our diversity, it's also important to not focus so much on it that we begin to fragment ourselves. When I recite the Airman's Creed, I say the same thing as the Airman next to me who is a different gender and from another racial background. I don't say, "I am a Caucasian male Airman" while the person next to me says, "I am a African American female Airman" or "I am a Latino male Airman." We all say as one, "I am an American Airman," and that's awesome!

I'm thankful I was reminded again of our diverse military, and I hope we can move forward in unity as we serve together to protect the freedoms and ideals that make our nation great. The motto found on the Seal of the United States is a good one to keep in mind as we step into tomorrow - E Pluribus Unum - "Out of many, one."