This weekend, let's give thanks

  • Published
  • By Col. Greg Touhill
  • 81st Training WIng commander
This weekend is more than a three-day weekend. We as Americans, we as Keesler Airmen, have an awful lot to be thankful for and should make some time to say thanks to those who have given us so much to enjoy the special freedoms of America. 

Special Olympics 
For example, let's say thanks to those who worked so hard to make last weekend's Special Olympics a great success. It took a lot of effort from our civil engineers to set up the venues, our Airmen who served as wingmen, the medics who kept the participants and attendees safe, and all the other leaders and volunteers who worked behind the scenes to make this a special event for all involved. Through your effort, you showed how great America can be when we work together for a noble cause. 

Gratitude to Goulds 
Let's also say thanks to Maj. Gen. Mike and Paula Gould, who are leaving 2nd Air Force and Keesler AFB this weekend after over two years of great leadership. The Goulds were instrumental in not only the rebuilding of the base after Hurricane Katrina, but in developing the training of our battlefield airmen. 

General Gould made it an Air Force priority to make sure that all our airmen deployed to combat operations around the world received the best, realistic, and relevant combat skills training to prepare them for the fight. One can only imagine how many lives have been saved through his efforts. 

While General Gould was heavily engaged in leading the tech training mission, Paula was equally busy, leading numerous community activities that have restored and renewed our community. Both made a big difference in our community and our Air Force and demonstrate the leadership that makes our country great. 

Keeping us safe 
Let's also not forget to thank our wingmen and leaders who guide us and keep us safe. The 101 Critical Days of Safety begin this weekend, and everyone should be thinking ahead about a safe summer. Now is the time for leaders to step up and remind their fellow Airmen the importance of safe behaviors and practices. Educate and train your fellow Airmen about effective risk management. The best leaders are those who recognize threats and are relentless in neutralizing or eliminating them. Please thank your wingman and leaders that make the time to ensure your safety comes first. 

Heroes, living and dead 
Finally, let's spend some time this weekend thanking those who gave the last full measure of devotion to our country. 

Since the late 1860s, the people of the United States have observed a day of remembrance in honor of those who have fallen in the service of our country. First called Decoration Day because the graves of the veterans were decorated, the holiday is now known as Memorial Day. 

Many folks observe the holiday by visiting cemeteries, such as the Biloxi National Cemetery, and placing flags and other decorations on the graves of fallen veterans. Others take some time and visit living veterans in hospitals and nursing homes to thank them for their service. 

Some will go to their place of worship to say special prayers for our fallen heroes. Others take some time to visit with the families of fallen troops to offer their condolences and support, while others visit the families of deployed members to make sure they are well taken care of. It is indeed a day to thank those who have given so much of themselves. 

No matter how you observe Memorial Day, please remember that above all it is a time to say thanks to those who have died in the service of our country. They gave their lives so we can enjoy the blessings and liberty that make America great. Please join me this weekend and make some time to say thanks.