66th Anniversary Air Force Ball strengthens camaraderie

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany – Members of the 52nd Force Support Squadron Honor Guard team post the colors during the singing of the U.S. and German national anthems at the Air Force Ball at Club Eifel Sept. 7, 2013. The theme for the event was “Shining Stars … Remembering the Past … Forging the Future.”  More than 200 Airmen and family members from the Spangdahlem community joined together to celebrate and honor Air Force heritage during the ball. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany – Members of the 52nd Force Support Squadron Honor Guard team post the colors during the singing of the U.S. and German national anthems at the Air Force Ball at Club Eifel Sept. 7, 2013. The theme for the event was “Shining Stars … Remembering the Past … Forging the Future.” More than 200 Airmen and family members from the Spangdahlem community joined together to celebrate and honor Air Force heritage during the ball. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany – U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Jeffrey Rodriguez, 52nd Component Maintenance Squadron and one of the master of ceremonies, talks with 52nd Fighter Wing Commander Col. David Julazadeh during the Spangdahlem Air Force Ball at Club Eifel Sept. 7, 2013. Rodriguez had targeted people in the audience to stand and give examples of important people in Air Force history. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany – U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Jeffrey Rodriguez, 52nd Component Maintenance Squadron and one of the master of ceremonies, talks with 52nd Fighter Wing Commander Col. David Julazadeh during the Spangdahlem Air Force Ball at Club Eifel Sept. 7, 2013. Rodriguez had targeted people in the audience to stand and give examples of important people in Air Force history. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany – An instructor from the Kisling NCO Academy places a firefighter helmet on a table during the Air Force Ball Sept. 7, 2013. The service caps represent military heritage and service members killed in action. The instructors performed as “Spirits of the Past,” a demonstration of Air Force heritage from World War I to current operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany – An instructor from the Kisling NCO Academy places a firefighter helmet on a table during the Air Force Ball Sept. 7, 2013. The service caps represent military heritage and service members killed in action. The instructors performed as “Spirits of the Past,” a demonstration of Air Force heritage from World War I to current operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany – U.S. Air Force Col. David Julazadeh, 52nd Fighter Wing commander, addresses the audience at the closing of the Air Force Ball at Club Eifel Sept. 7, 2013. This event marked the 66th anniversary of the Air Force and included performances to showcase Air Force heritage and history. (U.S. Air force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany – U.S. Air Force Col. David Julazadeh, 52nd Fighter Wing commander, addresses the audience at the closing of the Air Force Ball at Club Eifel Sept. 7, 2013. This event marked the 66th anniversary of the Air Force and included performances to showcase Air Force heritage and history. (U.S. Air force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- I never thought I would feel the way I did after that night. It changed everything.

To go to an event like this was an honor and a privilege; its significance was not lost on me that night.

The Air Force ball is a celebration that honors our service's past. This year's theme was "Shining stars ... Remembering the Past ... Forging the Future," and it took place in the Club Eifel ball room.

I spent an entire month looking forward to this event. If there is one thing I love most about the Air Force it is the camaraderie you build throughout your time in the service. It's the most rewarding thing I've ever come to experience in the military. It was more than just a celebration for me. This was a time for me to reflect on the past and truly honor our heritage.

I had the honor of singing the American and German anthems with my fellow Saber Singers when the honor guard presented the colors. Looking at everyone standing at attention while I sang gave me chills.

I thought about my uncles, Gary and Randy Nordstrom, who both served in the U.S. Army. They have inspired me to leave something great behind. It was they who have shaped our future, shown us the way and sacrificed so much for our families back home.

I often think, "If they were still in the service, what would they think of me if I worked side by side with them? Would they be proud? Would I be everything they would expect me to be?"

Spirits of the Past, a skit performed by Kisling NCO Academy during the ceremony, really had an impact on me. Several instructors portrayed different people from our past going back as far as the U.S. Army Air Corps days and showed the development of the Air Force over time. After each member gave their monologue, they would place a service cap on a table to symbolize the sacrifices made and the struggles we have gone through to get to where we are today.

Throughout the past year, I found myself taking much of our service's past for granted, that is, until nights like this. I now know our past is our greatest weapon, our present is our strength to prevail and our future is an endless opportunity.

The Air Force feels like a family to me. I will seize every opportunity I have to interact with my Air Force brethren.

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