Living among patriots

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol
  • Air Mobility Command Public Affairs
Every place I live I try to make sure I have an American flag, with no rips or tears, properly displayed in the front of my home. It's not because I'm overly patriotic, it's because I'm so thankful that I live in the United States and that I have the privilege of serving as an Air Force Airman.

The flag in front of my home will fly on Sept. 11 -- also known as Patriot Day. To me, Patriot Day takes a special place in my life. Since the fateful day of Sept. 11, 2001, my life -- like that of many Americans -- took on a new meaning after terrorists hijacked four civilian planes and attacked the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. The fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

I still remember being angered so by the devastation and wanted retaliation for those responsible. What followed in the days afterward, however, was a spike in patriotism across our nation that hadn't been seen in awhile. People were holding the Stars and Stripes closer to their hearts. I was among those people -- living among patriots.

The Congressional bill to make Sept. 11th a holiday was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Oct. 25, 2001, with 22 co-sponsors. Among them, 11 were Democrats and 11 were Republicans. It passed the House by a vote of 407-0 and passed the Senate unanimously on Nov. 30, 2001. It was signed into law by President George W. Bush on Dec. 18, 2001, creating Patriot Day.

So why should this be important to all of us? Well for me it's not just about the military veterans who have died protecting our freedoms since that day and before, it's about all Americans. Each American, I believe deep down, loves this country to their core. I believe each American is a patriot.

I see patriotism wherever I go in the military both at home station and abroad. For example, on my last two deployments -- one to Southwest Asia and the other to Uzbekistan, I recall aircrews taking American flags with them on combat missions to include air refueling and airdrop missions. It's a practice that continues today.

When these service members bring those flags home after deployment, they give them to the special "patriots" in their lives. I had flags I purchased and sent on such missions, and I gave them to my parents, my children's schools and most importantly to my wife. Why? Because I know it's not just me, it's also all the people in my life who work to protect our freedoms. It's the whole patriotic team.

I see the patriotism away from the military too. I see it when I visit my hometown, especially during Independence Day activities every July 4. Leading every parade is a color guard, which I've even marched in myself, carrying the Stars and Stripes front and center.

And even when it's not Independence Day, I see the patriotism in towns across the land with flags flying high in front of schools, businesses, government buildings, and of course many homes. It's a real inspiration every time I see a flag in the front of someone's home. It tells me immediately they are patriots.

I also see strong patriotism within my own family. My children and grandchildren inspire me every day with their beautiful support and belief in what the United States stands for. My parents, who raised me to believe that what we have in America is something special, as well as my brothers, sister, in-laws and more are also all tried and true patriots.

Most importantly for me, one of the biggest patriots I know is my wife. For the nearly 18 years that I've known her, I've never met anyone who can provide the support, love and care of someone like me -- a military member -- more. She is the one patriot I'm most proud to be associated with for the rest of my life.

My list of fellow patriots goes on and on. The big thing I would like you to remember is that we all have patriots around us and this Sept. 11, remember that you are a patriot too.