Before serving in the military, I only looked at Memorial Day weekend as the holiday that started summer. Now it has me reflecting on what it means to be an American and be willing to sacrifice, maybe with your life, for your country, and the freedom of others.
I served 6 ½ years in the U.S. Air Force and the Air National Guard, achieving the rank of a non-commissioned officer. Now, my two daughters are learning what it means to serve their country.
My first permanent duty station was in the western half of a divided Germany. I landed at Frankfurt Airport at 20 years old. The sight of military soldiers in uniform, with machine guns, patrolling the civilian airport, alert for any action needing swift response was a shock. I distinctly remember at 20 years old how that feeling made me grateful for the democracy and peace that we enjoy here in America.
While there, I witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany and its people. It was powerful to witness the elation, the relief, and the expectations of a new era for their country. I learned not to take the freedoms that we enjoy for granted.
I came back to America and was assigned to a unit that deployed regularly. During one of my deployments, I was on a foreign military base in a country experiencing a civil war. While I was there, a skirmish happened between a gunship from that base and a rebel camp; the gunship had opened fire on the rebel camp, killing multiple members.
The rebels announced that in retaliation, they would be attacking a military base within the next 30 days. I was ordered to be there for another 25 days. I did not know exactly where I was on a map; my unit had been loaded onto a cargo plane and dropped off after 22 hours of travel.
I did not know the terrain, I did not speak the local language, and my hair and skin tone did not fit in. I needed a plan. Where would I go, what would I do if we were attacked? I studied terrain maps, reviewed action plans, became hypervigilant, and slept with my boots and weapon at the ready while anxiously awaiting my return to America.
I still remember the wave of relief and security that I felt when I stepped off that plane back on U.S. soil at last. I wanted to kiss the ground. Memorial Day is to remember our fallen heroes who didn't make it back and our active service members.
I am lucky, I did not lose any close friends in action, but I do know many veterans that the war didn't end when they returned home. That's why I spend my free time volunteering with Soldiers' Angels. They provide a food distribution for veterans and support deployed troops.
In the military, we learn that when there is a crisis, what saves you is planning and action.
One without the other could get you killed and risks your freedom and everyone else's. I want to encourage you this weekend to be safe, think about our fallen heroes, and have a plan for your family.
Candidate for Colorado Senate District 31
Note: Ballots have been mailed. It's up to you to choose who you want to represent you in Senate District 31. I've got the experience, smarts, drive and plan to make a real difference for our community here in District 31. I would be honored to serve as your elected representative. Please vote in the Primary! Vote for Maria Orms. Thank you.