I have been shown an entirely new lifestyle in which I was unaware of, prior to visiting MacDill Air Force Base. While visiting and touring MacDill Air Force Base the movie “The Truman Show” came to mind; a film starring Jim Carey, who is unknowingly living in a community “bubble”. Everything is set up, and Carey is being watched by millions every night, on TV, for the purpose of a psychological experiment/reality TV show. Not to say that the men and women who dedicate themselves to the good of our country are akin to Jim Carey, or reality TV stars; but, that they live in a place that is completely for them. The vast, expansive, and beautiful area of MacDill Air Force Base is not, what was in my mind, a large airport glorified airport for the taking off and landing of jets and planes; but more of a safe house and a way of life.
To go into detail about what we covered within the two and a half hour trip to MacDill would require a short pamphlets worth of description. I cannot begin to describe to you the amount of things I learned, the people I met, or the places I saw in the length of this blog and still give each the attention and detail they deserve. Instead, I am harboring the experience as a whole- the emotions, the realizations, and the appreciation.
Observing MacDill through the windows of the tour bus I could see that this community was a great one to be a part of. What a sense of being and purpose that all who live and serve here must have. Every individual I noticed had a purpose. Running, exercising, training, preparing, working, fixing, thinking, doing….
Seeing the majority of people all adorned in their beautiful uniforms gave me the strong, exciting shivers of pride to be an American. The knowledge that all of the soldiers, pilots, flight attendants, workers, trainers, officers, etc. knew was astounding. They not only identified with what their duties were, but how it affected those down the line. After seeing the daily tasks of the men and women of MacDill any desk job now seems like a joke.
What proves to be more embarrassing is my admitted ignorance of the concept of the military. Anyone who watches the nightly (or morning) news has biases depending on any broadcasted station. In fact, bias is hard to get away from. After watching constant stories about insurgencies, bombings, and deaths I find it hard to see the good in any war. But after today, I realized I have been focusing on the wrong facet of a beautiful process of life. Yes, the life of a soldier and the act of war does entail danger, blood, death and sadness; but it also harbors more. It is a lifestyle for those who have so much pride in their heritage, so much passion for their country, and so much heart for their loved ones and surrounding community.
Coming from a college campus I only see what is on the news and glimpses of the military life of campus. It is so hard to connect yourself to this lifestyle when you are not near any of it, and so to take what is given from the media and from afar is not ok. I was so ignorant to think that the military is mostly for people who can’t go to college or can’t find any other job. That everyone it is made up of is violent. I am proud to say that I am ashamed of that way of thinking now.
I know our class trip was enjoyed by all of us involved, but my MacDill trip sent me home with something more. I now see the military not just as the front lines of soldiers with guns in hand, shooting. But I see them as family, as a prestigious company. The way in which we were treated today was with great respect, when in reality the people of MacDill deserve the act of respect most. The atmosphere that they gave off was so inviting. Their appreciation for life could be seen in their eyes.
Each stop we were lucky enough to take always proved too short. No amount of time given on this trip could soak up all there is to learn about this lifestyle. I am usually one to express how I am feeling at each moment and time, my heart is on my sleeve and I don’t hide anything. During my MacDill trip I was quiet, after having been home a couple of hours I realized it was because I was truly in a state of awe. No amount of questions would have done the experience justice for me. I simply decided to take it all in with silence and respect. I wish I could replay the day over in slow motion, it was a fantastic experience.
I feel as though I have met a new species of people. This was a day I know I grew as a person, my verizon was expanded. I have a yearning to go retrieve the American Flag in my garage and fly it proudly outside my house- it shouldn’t be out there only on the 4th of July. The people of MacDill work every day. If you are someone of the military or service for our country and are reading this blog, thank you for all that you do.