Chaplain’s thoughts … September 11, 2015

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Air Force life, indeed life in general, and religion have this in common — they are influenced and sustained by the use of symbols.

Consider the symbols that mark our lives as Airmen. Our duty badges identify what we do, our unit seals identify which squadron we work in, and we have RMOs in our pockets that identify our squadron or wing. On a national level we have the American flag and the United States Constitution that represent the people and the political ethos of our nation. These symbols hold great meaning for Airmen; indeed their significance increases as one continues in service.

Similarly, all religions have symbols that represent and explain some aspect of their faith. The Om of Hinduism, the Dharma Wheel of Buddhism, the Star of David of Judaism, the Cross or Crucifix of Christianity, the Crescent and Star of Islam are some of the symbols that represent the world’s great religions.

While these symbols are not always understood, they should be respected. Furthermore we, as Airmen, are the defenders of religious freedom in America, and as such we are the defenders of these and many other symbols. Every Airman should take pride in the truth that they protect the right of every American to worship according to the dictates of their own conscience.

I encourage you to hold to your religious faith and the symbols thereof, yet respect the right of others to worship in a way that is different from your own. This mindset has worked well for our society and will continue to work to the degree that we extend to others the respect and the courtesy that we would want for ourselves.

Thanks for your service and sacrifice.