“On that day, let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting and enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.”

– 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, first Veterans Day proclamation.

I wish every American could read those words and say to themselves, “Your efforts were not in vain.”

When I joined the Air Force oh so many (many) years ago, the military was a lot different than it is now. It wasn’t as family-centric, there were still small numbers of minorities and females, but all in all, I felt like I belonged. I had a super cool job – I was a broadcaster and journalist. My first assignment was at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, and I was the midnight radio disc jockey, spinning records and cueing up the big reel-to-reel tapes for our recorded shows. It was a great gig!

Air Force Veteran Elizabeth Lopez Lovelady

Air Force Veteran Elizabeth Lopez Lovelady

A year later I was sent to Minot Air Force Base, N.D. This Texas gal had never seen or felt weather like that, but I adjusted, and thank goodness they gave us winter gear. After about a year serving as the media/community relations specialist, I made the move to print journalism and became the editor of our base newspaper.

About that time the first Gulf War was gearing up and people were deploying left and right. I volunteered. I didn’t care where because “that” was what being in the military was all about. Minot AFB was part of the Strategic Air Command – whose motto at one point was “War is our Profession, Peace is Our Product.” I wasn’t one of those who joined the military for the education benefits, because trust me, they weren’t all that great back then. I REALLY wanted to be part of something big and exciting, to defend my country, albeit as a broadcaster or journalist, and to me, deploying was THE ultimate way to do that.

At the time I was married with a toddler, and a lot of people kept telling me it was wrong for me to volunteer to deploy – but I thought, did anyone ever say that to a man? Does anyone think their commitment to their job as a member of the military was any different from mine because I was a mother, wife, daughter, or sister? They didn’t change my mind and it made me more determined to get deployed. Unfortunately, when they finally decided they would send me to Langley AFB, VA, Desert Shield ended and they stopped taking volunteers.

A year later I was assigned back to Incirlik, in the middle of Operation Desert Storm, so the tour was unaccompanied. In a small way, I did get my deployment – it was tough, but I wouldn’t have changed one second of it.

With friends at Minot Air Force Base

With friends at Minot Air Force Base

I am very proud of my service and now as a VA employee, I feel like it’s all coming full circle. I served, and I’m still serving. It’s funny, I can’t tell you how many times when someone is talking about Veterans and they use “he” – I always interject under my breath (but mostly not) “or she!”

I know Veterans Day is the day to remember all the Veterans who have served our great nation; but to us, those who have served, Veterans Day is every day. My sincere hope is the next time you meet a Veteran, you will continue to thank her – or him – and let them know their efforts were never in vain.

About the author: US Air Force Veteran Elizabeth Lopez Lovelady is the Executive Secretary for the Director of the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center, Walla Walla, WA. She is a native of El Paso, Texas, a graduate of Texas Woman’s University and a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Share this story

Published on Nov. 11, 2016

Estimated reading time is 3.5 min.

Views to date: 142

One Comment

  1. Cheryl A Cosand November 18, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    What Veteran’s Day means to me?
    My mother and father were both Marines. I was also and I was married to my husband for 19 year who also was a Marine. So the other day I was in the Veterans Parade in Ellensburg WA. The groud waving and saying “Thank you” to us. I replied “It was my honor” and the 89 year old Army Veteran said “I don’t think I would go so far to say honor” I replied you may not feel that was but I certainly do. I have been a Marine since May 8, 1974. I served 6 years. But I am still a Marine in my heart.

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • 2022 VHA Shark Tank competition finalists will present their pitches at the Innovation Experience in October.

  • VA has simplified and streamlined the application process for medical debt relief, allowing Veterans better access. Apply for and receive medical debt relief now.

  • Rena Dugat’s daughter died at 34 from ovarian cancer. She escaped the darkness and despair by volunteering and then competing in the Houston Golden Age Games.