Freedom isn’t free

From the outside it just looks like a regular office building. One-story, lots of windows, glass doors make up the entrance.

Once you’re inside, you immediately see what makes the Base Operations Building different from any other office building.

To your left is a large photo of our F-16s flying over Lambeau Field. That’s usually the spot people flock to during tours. Those who are really interested in the history of the Wing find themselves staring at a trophy-style case on the opposite side of the hallway. It’s filled with model aircraft – a display that shows all the different airframes our pilots have flown throughout the years.

If you walk through the hallway, you’ll see photo after photo of aircraft and Airmen who have been stationed here. I don’t know their individual stories, but I’d be willing to bet at least a couple of them gave the ultimate sacrifice fighting for our freedom.

Service members who lost their lives during their military service years were remembered by many yesterday – Memorial Day.

Hopefully you had a chance to enjoy the company of your family and friends this past holiday weekend. While you were doing so, I’m optimistic that you took a moment to remember those who have defended our freedom and lost their lives doing so. If you didn’t, please take a moment to walk the halls of the office buildings on base, or google images of those who didn’t come home from the various wars our nation has fought.

Look at their photos and pay gratitude to the service members who paved the way long before our time. Give respect to the Americans who never got a chance to marry the love of their life or watch their children grow old. They never got a chance to live the life they intended – they gave up that opportunity so we could live the lives we want to.

We get to celebrate the birth of our children, hang out with our friends on a regular basis, and enjoy the freedom of being an American – all because of them.

It is an absolute honor to wear this uniform. It is an absolute honor to continue the tradition of those who protected our country before us. It is an absolute honor to have one day a year to officially recognize and pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Freedom isn’t free – don’t take it for granted.

#MemorialDay2015

F-51 001

F-51 003

84-aircraft on flightline

in flight f-89s

F102 pilot 01

Wisconsin Air National Guard F102A over Truax Field 1967

F102As on ramp

72 motor pool summer camp volk field   2

Motor Pool section in formation at Gulf Port, Mississippi

About Tech. Sgt. Andrea F. Rhode

Tech. Sgt. Andrea F. Rhode is a photojournalist for the 115th Fighter Wing in Madison, Wisconsin.