Commentary

June 8, 2012

History in flesh better than reading about it

by Lt. Col. Dominic Clementz
56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron

Recently, I had the unprecedented opportunity to spend an evening socializing with veterans and family members whose life experiences spanned nine decades. The social brought together an Auschwitz and Holocaust survivor, a D-Day and concentration camp liberator, a Pearl Harbor survivor, a couple of Korean War veterans, and a few Vietnam veterans along with several active-duty Airmen and their families. The casual, yet, captivating discussions that evening proved richer than any history book. It reminded me of a phrase a former history professor was fond of sharing, “History may not repeat itself, but it surely rhymes.”

The point the professor was trying to impart is that we can learn much from our collective past as we work to shape a better future. This is a very pertinent lesson to all of us in the profession of arms who are entrusted with defending our Constitution against all enemies.

Every level of professional military education devotes considerable time and resources to teaching and reflecting on the leadership challenges of past generations within the context of service, and national and world history. Consequently, as PME graduates, we are also novice historians. Knowing our history is important because mistakes, as well as successes, are recognizable to some degree.

As amateur historians, most of us can relate to at least one instance where individuals or nations recognized or failed to recognize the social dynamics at work. Often when the social dynamics were recognized, overwhelming success followed. On the other hand, when the lessons of history were not learned, tragedy followed. Therefore, most readers recognize the intrinsic value of understanding our past so we can make better decisions for the future.

Whether you are a self-proclaimed history buff or a reluctant novice, I think you will find that learning about history is much more rewarding and relevant the closer you are to the source material. As military members, we have opportunities to travel the world and walk the battlefields of past conflicts as well as talk face-to-face (not to be confused with Facebook) with veterans who have, as the saying goes, “been there, done that and got the T-shirt.”

Another Memorial Day has come and gone, but I challenge each of you to seek out an opportunity to visit with a veteran and ask them to share their story and perhaps their memory of a fallen comrade. Luke Air Force Base has many such opportunities throughout the year, including heritage month celebrations, Holocaust Remembrance events, and prisoner of war panels. Additionally, we can seek face-to-face exchanges during VA hospital visits, in veterans organizations (VFW, American Legion and sergeants associations), or within our own family and community.

Also consider volunteering to capture this living history for future generations of Americans. In 2000, the Unites States Congress voted unanimously for legislation to create the Veterans History Project at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress Veterans History Project provides a great avenue to honor the contributions of American war veterans and civilian workers who supported them by preserving stories of their service to our country. The Veterans History Project relies on volunteers throughout the nation to collect veterans’ stories via audio, video and written means on behalf of the Library of Congress. I have had the privilege to interview four World War II service members through the Veterans History Project. In the process, I learned an enormous amount about “The Greatest Generation,” our county and the world in which we live. The interviews were a tremendous personal experience that I will always treasure. I challenge you to seek a similar experience while honoring the proud legacy of our nation’s patriots.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Pg-1-photo

Chief of staff visits Luke

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and his wife, Betty, spent time meeting with Airmen and leadership Monday at Luke Air Force Base. Welsh highlighted Airman health, wellness and quality of life activities. He also...
 
 

Mentoring fosters dreams, strengthens us

A few days ago while reading an online commander’s call, I came across an article dated Dec. 31, 2014, stating President Obama proclaimed the month of January 2015 National Mentoring Month. Although this topic is thoroughly discussed in our Air Force today, I felt compelled to write on its importance all the same. In a...
 
 

Have you joined the Air Force yet?

I enlisted into the Air Force in February of 1997. However, I didn’t join the Air Force until March of 1999. No, I’m not talking about the Delayed Enlistment Program. There was no doubt that after high school I would attend college. However, not having applied for any scholarships and realizing that I didn’t have...
 

 
Courtesy photo

Prevention training goes face-to-face

Courtesy photo Maj. Jennifer Tomlinson, Air Education and Training Command Medical Readiness Division deputy chief, serves as facilitator during the AETC Medical Services and Training directorate annual Air Force Suicide Preven...
 
 
Senior Airman
JAMES HENSLEY

Thunderbolt looks to future

Senior AirmanJAMES HENSLEY Staff Sgt. Maddie Baker, 56th Dental Squadron acting commander secretary was an Air Force Honor Guard member prior to crossing over to the dental field. As the commander’s secretary, she plays a piv...
 
 

Tuskegee Airmen commemorated

The Archer-Ragsdale Arizona Chapter of Tuskegee Airman Inc. celebrated the 2nd Annual Tuskegee Airman Commemoration Day with a wreath ceremony Wednesday at the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Air Park. The Tuskegee Airmen Commemoration Day is the result of legislation signed into law by former Arizona Governor Janice Brewer in 2013 and is the first such law...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin