‘We must all hang together;' but be safe - our country needs you

  • Published
  • By Col. Michael S. Stough
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing commander
This Tuesday marks the 230th anniversary of our country's declaration of independence from Great Britain.

It's a day marked by parades, barbecues and other outdoor events as we celebrate the birth of our country and honor the courage of the early revolutionaries who signed the Declaration. When they put quill to parchment, victory was far from assured, hence Benjamin Franklin's warning after the declaration was signed, "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." Of course, the colonies and the patriots did indeed "hang together," and the war ended in 1783 with our survival as a nation assured.

Of course, the colonies and the patriots did indeed "hang together," and the war ended in 1783 with our survival as a nation assured.

We've progressed greatly from those early beginnings, abolishing slavery, actively seeking to guarantee equal rights to all members of our society, establishing social safety nets to protect those in need and using our considerable military power to help protect the world from the threat of totalitarian regimes.

Our work's not done, however. As long as there's racism in our society, as long as any child goes hungry, as long as citizens in other countries suffer under the yoke of repression, our status as a world power will require our engagement.

Today, we're in the midst of an armed struggle with global ramifications. Although our efforts and attention are primarily focused on the Middle East, we have to be prepared to respond anywhere we're threatened by the forces of terror.

I'll leave it to the "experts" to debate the wisdom of our strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq; for me, it's enough to know that our Airmen are deployed "in harm's way" in an active effort to help the citizens of those countries establish fledgling democracies.

During the past year, more than 500 Team Mildenhall members deployed to Southwest Asia or the Horn of Africa—and other locations as well.

As we approach this Fourth of July, I'd like to say thank you to each and every one of you. Your service really does make a difference, even though you might feel like you're trying to drain the ocean at times.

Our own history shows us that democracy isn't easy. In fact, it's safe to say we never get it right the first time. But the fact that you're out there, doing your best to help other nations succeed, represents the very best that our country has to offer.

I ask you this coming weekend to keep those still deployed in your thoughts as you celebrate the holiday. I also ask you to watch out for each other during the weekend's festivities.

We want everyone to have a good time, but we also want everyone to return to work having enjoyed a safe, sane weekend. Our country needs you.