“Integrity has no need of rules.” Albert Camus
“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” C.G. Jung
“Do ordinary things extraordinarily well.” Gregg Harris
USAF (United States Air Force) Core Values and Growing Up: “Integrity, service and excellence.” These three words represent the core values of the USAF, which reminds me of the early years of my life growing up as an “Air Force Brat” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_brat_%28U.S._subculture%29 ).
Each summer for the past decade, my sisters and I meet at the Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola FL (U.S. Navy) for a family reunion. Each morning at NAS Pensacola, you are greeted with “First Call” (Reveille) followed by the playing of the National Anthem. Everyone stops while the music plays; you face toward the flag if you can see it and stand at parade rest. If the flag is not within sight, then you face toward the music. At the end of the day, “Retreat” plays. Throughout the day, jets and planes are constantly taking off and landing, sometimes in single file, other times, side-by-side. Exciting. Inspiring. Proud. And this all brings back vivid memories of growing up, not on a Navy Air Station, but on an Air Force Base being “Colonel Church’s son”. As I reflect here, the USAF Core Values ring true and strong to a young boy with a father in the USAF (below are a few pictures).
My formative years: (top left) Col. Church, my father; (top middle) sitting on my dad’s lap wearing a hat, to my right are my two sisters; (top right) meeting the Base Commander; (bottom left) baseball (I’m second on the left in the row kneeling); (bottom middle) golf tournament (I’m second from the right); and (bottom right) parents dancing.
Integrity: The earliest positive influence on my life was my dad; and it all started with integrity through his actions. A fundamental cornerstone of my dad’s influence on me was to always be honest. To be honest with all others and to be honest with yourself. Almost everything I did growing up required teamwork and bringing integrity provided strength to each team and to me. Staying true to your own word when no one is watching is always the right way. Your integrity leads you forward.
“Be good to your work, your word, and your friend.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Service: The USAF interpretation of service is a commitment to serve your country before self. The commitment to service was ever present. I lived in awe of my dad’s dedication and service to his USAF career and drive to serve our country. As an adult, I too possess a commitment to service and to help others; primarily through education and biomedical research. Service and helping others; taught to me at a young age and greatly influenced by my father serves me well in academics today. Your own service enriches your life.
“I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.” Kahlil Gibran
Excellence: The final core value of excellence revolves around doing the task proudly and right. My father went from being a pilot to managing missiles; a career centered on national safety. He instilled in me the notion to work hard and well, centered around excellence (because the task mattered no matter the importance of the task). My life has not always resulted in excellence but it was always done as well/properly as I was able. From this ability to work hard, I realized what I did best was science research and teaching; this continues as I strive for excellence. Through this same excellence, your life matters too.
“We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life.” Steve Jobs
Integrity. Service. Excellence: “The foundation is integrity, fortified by a commitment to the service of our country, and fueled by a drive in excellence in all that we do. The Air Force recognizes integrity first, service before self, and excellence as its core values…Learn these lessons well. They will serve you well in your professional career and your personal life.” (from the USAF “Core Values” video)
Parkinson’s. Air Force Core Values. A Life Lived: Living with Parkinson’s is teaching me about life and what matters the most. My recent summer stay on the Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola brought back a flood of early life memories. Although the Core Values were only recently adopted by the USAF; these were fundamental values taught to me by my USAF father. And I am forever grateful for his influence to infuse these values into the fabric of my life:
These values allow me to focus on living a full life with Parkinson’s; no regrets, live a positive life-style.
These values allow me to accept my diagnosis; they provide strength to live-forward without self-pity.
These values allow me to remain positive; they let me stay hopeful and determined.
These values remind me of my father; his values provided a template for the foundation of my life.
“Everyday courage has few witnesses. But yours is no less noble because no drum beats for you and no crowds shout your name. ” Robert Louis Stevenson