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NEWS | Sept. 8, 2014

Never forget

By Lt. Col. Guy Alexander 247th Intelligence Squadron

As I pondered what to write this month, I recalled a powerful moment . . .

While holding a position as the J2 in South Carolina, I had a visit with Dr. Jim Chow (also recognized as Brig. Gen. Chow). Leaving his office, I encountered an elderly couple at the elevator. One could tell they were a couple of countless years together. Like everyone else in this fast paced world, I immediately pushed the elevator button while waiting impatiently. I heard the gentleman ask his wife to push the same button. Due to his medical condition and age, the gentleman was bent over and supported by a cane; therefore, unable to see much around him. I couldn't see his face nor could he see mine. His wife informed him that the military person (I was in uniform) beside them had already done so.

As the doors opened, he slowly and gingerly shuffled his way in. I eagerly waited for the doors to close while anxiously checking my watch. As they finally settled in, the elderly man raised his head with difficulty and glanced up at me. He asked me a couple of questions most people do with military members. He then began to tell me his stories of World War II, the Korean War and his service time concluding with him reaching the rank of chief warrant officer. With every story told, he lifted his head a little higher so I could now see his eyes. As I listened, I can see the pride and patriotism he had for this country. I looked at his wife. She too stood proud while holding his arm and keeping him steadfast as he could not stand on his own.

Several others had entered the elevator and began listening to the incredible life story of this proud man.

Reaching the bottom floor, everyone quickly scurried out to adhere to their busy schedules. I too joined the "rat race." As I exited, I could see the couple from my peripheral vision slowly shuffle out of the elevator. I, now several steps in front came to a stop, turned back and asked if I could escort them to the car. They gladly accepted. As we walked, the gentleman excitedly continued with his stories. At the car, his wife opened the door and stood by his side as we prepared to gingerly settle him in. I then decided to take several steps away from the car and turned around to face them. His stories had resonated within me. I rendered a salute and said, "Sir, Ma'am- I salute and thank you both for your service."

The gentleman mustered up what it seemed all his strength to stand up as straight as possible. He then raised his trembling arm and returned my salute as a tear rolled down his cheek. As I dropped my salute, I placed my hand on his shoulder and turned around to depart. To my surprise, I noticed several cars had come to a complete stop in the parking lot. They were the same busy people in the elevator who had heard his stories and were feverishly on their way. For that moment, they too recognized and paused to share in the moment and pay their respects to these two great Americans. My lessons learned that day from a wonderful couple...

- True patriotism is more than just saying so.
- Recognize and appreciate who truly keeps you standing & steadfast.

As we once again remember the anniversary of Sept. 11, I ask you to remember those Americans who have paid the ultimate sacrifice while also blessing those who have laid the foundation and provided the opportunity for us to serve. Such remembrance and blessing is not limited to those in uniform but to every American who make this country great. It is our story. We must... always remember to never forget.