Why I wear the uniform

Airman 1st Class Austin Hopper, 50th Security Forces Squadron.

Airman 1st Class Austin Hopper, 50th Security Forces Squadron.

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- As new Airmen, we are often asked "why did you join the military?" Sometimes we don't know the answer right off the top of our heads. Either because we've forgotten, or we never truly knew. So before we stand in front an audience and freeze up, we begin to think of how the Air Force benefits us. We begin to mention things such as an education, healthcare or getting the opportunity to explore the world. These give us an easy answer to a seemingly simple question. However, it seems that a lot of us end up giving similar answers rather than what's unique to ourselves. While the benefits the military have to offer ARE awesome, I've challenged myself to think of the "bigger picture."

It all begins at home for me. Where I come from we seem to lack role models. We lack people who serve something bigger than themselves. A lot of people I looked up to as a kid have either ended up in jail or simply given up on their own ability to excel at something. I've noticed this through the years and fear my younger family members and basketball players I've coached will have no positive role models. I fear my closest friends will lose hope in their current situations. I like to think when I put on my uniform; it will serve as inspiration to them. I hope it will help to show my love for them, and to represent that I'd pay the ultimate price if it meant they could continue to follow their dreams. This is important to me because I still believe in the American dream. I believe everyone has the right to pursue what makes them happy.

I wear my uniform for those who have already paid the ultimate price. I like to think we frustrate our enemies with our resiliency. Because for every flag draped casket that holds a brave warrior, there is another brave man or woman who is willing and ready to serve in their honor. And when that individual does rise up to do so, they are wearing that uniform which represents the United States of America. I take great pride in being a part of that. I admire the diversity our uniform represents. It is something that should never go unrecognized. I love knowing on any given day, I have the opportunity to serve next to an individual of a different race, religion, ethnicity or economic background, and know he/she has my back. I believe each of the individuals wearing the uniform play a unique role in making sure every American feels safe at night.

The beliefs I have, as well as the love I have for the greatest country on earth, are the reasons I wear the uniform.