What is an Airman?

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- As a former military training instructor, I saw many trainees graduate basic training and become Airmen. They became very different people from the time they arrived at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. They had a sense of pride and honor knowing they had become part of the Air Force family.

Even though I'm no longer an MTI, I can see some of that pride has been lost. Where have those Airmen gone? Do we lose this sense of pride and honor as the years go on? Have we forgotten what it felt like to graduate basic training and march down the bomb run with our heads held high?

From the commander in chief down to an airman basic, we all need to remember we are part of an elite group of people serving our country. Being an Airman is not a job, it is an honor. Every day I go to work, I take pride in my uniform and appearance. It's not because some regulation states I must, but because I represent a service greater than myself.

I want you to ask yourself a few questions. When you go to work, do you look your best? Do you go above and beyond to complete your tasks? Do you care about your fellow wingman? If you answered "no" to any of these questions, why?

We have preached that the Air Force believes in the whole-person concept, but we sometimes lose sight of being the best Airmen we can be. The passion to be the best is something we should be passing down to the younger generation of Airmen, and it's something the younger generations can instill in us.

More often than not, I hear, "That is not my job," or, "I get paid the same whether I work hard or not." This is not acceptable. Being an Airman is not our job, it's our way of life. I can give plenty of examples where hard work and perseverance have paid off, but it's pride and integrity we need to be looking for. Today's Airmen do not face the same challenges as Airmen in the past, but we are all cut from the same cloth. "Excellence in all we do," is not just a saying. We dishonor those who came before us when we do not uphold that core value.

We are one team, but we're also individuals. Individually we're responsible for making a difference. One Airman working harder than the rest will get the job done, but one Airman teaching others to work just as hard can change the Air Force. I want you to remember what it felt like to graduate BMT. Wear that pride on your sleeve and be proud to be a member of the United State Air Force. Go to work tomorrow with the intent of reminding people that being an Airman is a privilege and an honor, not a right.