05/18/05 — Pride — and relief: Community’s relationship with air base left intact

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Pride — and relief: Community’s relationship with air base left intact

You have seen the marquees all over Wayne County:

“Congratulations SJAFB.”

“We appreciate Seymour Johnson.”

“Glad you are still here SJAFB.”

The presentation might vary, but the sentiment remains the same: This county is really glad its Air Force base is staying put.

But as we all waited for the results of the Base Realignment and Closure commission last week, many of us stopped to think about what the base — and the men and women who serve there — mean to this community.

We have probably thought of it before, in an offhanded way, whenever we see a uniform or hear a plane pass overhead.

And if you run a business, you know what those 5,000-plus jobs mean to your bottom line.

But what some of us might not have known is just how much those airmen and their families do to support this community with volunteer hours every day. There are many local organizations that would not be able to exist without the money and manpower that come from the base, and there are many others whose fellowship is richer because of the experiences the airmen and retirees share with the membership.

But setting all that aside, the reason this community is proud to support Seymour Johnson is partially patriotic. We still tear up when “God Bless America” begins a program or when a flag is raised. We mourn when a soldier or airman loses his life in combat, and we hold our breath when one of our units is sent away on another mission.

We are there for their families while their fathers and mothers are away, trying to make those who must wait at home feel cared for, even when their loved ones are thousands of miles away.

And when our heroes come home, we are there, with flags raised and hearts full, to tell them just how much we appreciate the work they do to keep this country safe.

We are glad Seymour Johnson is staying because we are proud to be its hosts, and even prouder to be able to say we are Americans.

Published in Editorials on May 18, 2005 10:13 AM