By TECH SGT. JOSEPH CRAWFORD
374th Communications Squadron
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNEWS) — I just witnessed something that moved me deeply and I wanted to share this feeling. I hope you do not mind reading this. The other day I was coming home from work carrying a lot of stuff — physical training uniform, shoes, school books and my laptop — when the music for the National Anthem sounded.
I was almost inside the apartment where I live. All I had to do was make a run for it and within seconds, I could have been inside. Any other day, I would have been very happy to stop on a dime and face the music, but I had a long drive from Camp Zama (I commute from Yokota Air Base to Zama each day, to and from work, by choice, for those people who don’t know) and I was tired. I just wanted to make it inside.
Then I thought about the people serving in deployed locations who can’t be with their love ones; I thought about those who died serving our great nation; I also thought of the fact that it angered me when others do what I was feeling like doing.
When those thoughts came to me, I stopped, turned around and walked back to where I was when I first heard the music.
I freed one of my hands and faced the music and rendered a salute during the Japanese National Anthem.
What followed is what moved me and is the point of this story. There were some children playing in the playground as the National Anthem was being played. One boy saw what I did and stopped playing and faced the music, as I was doing, and put his hand over his heart and stood silently. This really touched me, yet, it didn’t end there.
Another child saw what this boy did and he stopped playing and stood in silence. When that boy stopped, a little girl who was playing stopped and then all of a sudden every child who was playing stopped and paid respect and stood in silence until the National Anthem was over. What makes this so amazing is how the positive actions of one child spread throughout the playground. Yet, there were still adults driving and walking around. Can you believe that?
The children were setting an awesome example and some of the adults didn’t even notice. As the music played, I felt a great sense of pride and got all choked up inside. In my 23 years of service, I had never seen anything like what I witnessed that day. After the National Anthem, I picked up my stuff and headed into the apartment, and the first boy who stopped playing followed me in. I so much wanted to thank him and all the kids who paid respect to the National Anthem, but I was so choked up and emotional that I could not say a word.
I just smiled at the boy and nodded my head. I briefly talked to him while in the elevator and still, I was too emotional to express what I felt. I would love to thank the parents of those kids for bringing up such wonderful respectful children.
Because of their example, I know that their parents must be excellent military citizens.
That small example made me reflect on the fact that as military members we have a heavy role in the world: we have the role of serving our great nation and we also have a role of being excellent members of society.
People are watching us, especially young ones, so it is important that we not only be the best military members that we can, but we need to be the best Americans we can — all the time (even though it is hard). Let me end this here because I feel my emotions getting the best of me.