Remember why we serve

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the Air Force has been continuously called upon to help preserve the nation's way of life and defeat the threat of terrorism. Now, six years later, the Air Force has nearly 40,000 active duty, Guard and Reserve Airmen deployed to more than 20 countries across the globe, supporting the war on terrorism.  (U.S. Air Force graphic/Mike Carabajal)

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the Air Force has been continuously called upon to help preserve the nation's way of life and defeat the threat of terrorism. Now, the Air Force has active duty, Guard and Reserve Airmen deployed across the globe, supporting the war on terrorism. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Mike Carabajal)

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- This Saturday marks nine years since our country was attacked by those who would attempt to destroy all we hold dear--it is your selfless service that keeps these forces of destruction at bay.

I ask you to take a minute this weekend to remember how you felt on that day and in the days after. Remember your rightful shock and anger; remember those who fell that day and those who rushed forward into danger heedless of the personal cost.

Remember how your Tuesday morning began on Sept. 11, 2001 and remember how it ended. We each raised our hands and swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and, by extension, our fellow Americans who live freely under its protection and guarantees.

I, for one, shall never forget standing in the courtyard of the Pentagon that morning--seeing the fire roaring through the building and over the top of the roof. And in the midst of the flames and the chaos, I also saw service members, firefighters, police and everyday Americans rush to the aid of their fellow man.

This is what we do--this is Service before Self--this is how we protect our family and friends, and this is how we defend all we hold dear.

Thank you for your service, and the many sacrifices you and your families endure in defense of our nation.