Friday, I flew from Colorado Springs — where I gave a speech to the Heritage Foundation–to Denver en route to New York. A short hop measured in time but for me it had the impact of Lindberg’s crossing the Atlantic.
I sat next to a wonderful young woman, an Air Force Academy cadet, less than a month away from graduation and her status as a second lieutenant. She was bright, poised, attractive, driven, ambitious. She will have a degree inengineering, focused on astrophysics. She plays on the Academy’s tennis team and is nationally ranked. She can land a job any place she chooses at an excellent starting salary, buy herself a hot car and settle into a cool apartment.
Instead, she chooses to protect her country, fly for the greatest Air Force in the world, hopefully taking command as a fighter pilot. She is from heartland America, was referred to the Academy by John McCain, has a loving and down to earth family. And is all about sacrifice in the name of red, white and blue.
When I asked her how much money she would earn as a young officer, she told me she had no idea. It doesn’t matter to her one iota. She is all in for America.
As the commuter jet we were flying in leveled off in the clear sky turbulence of a gorgeous Colorado day, she asked me to peer out the window of her beloved school. Pride washed over her as she took in the aerial view of what had been home to her for four years….and what would launch her into the skies for years to come.
I knew her only for minutes, but I will never forget her. I told her she made me proud and more confident about America’s future. And I asked her for a favor that I had no right to ask:
“Please don’t let anyone in your personal life, anyone smaller than you in vision and spirit, hold you back. Please go for it with everything you have.”
She said she had struggled with that but she promised me she would. And I believe her. I am counting on her. As we all should. She comes from a place in the soul of the U.S. where people still serve, where they are proud to defend, where they never apologize for the land of the free, where the hot car and the cool apartment don’t compare to the star spangled banner.
She is our future in a blue cadet’s uniform and a “can do” determination. God bless her!Email This Post