SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Air Force Airman Darby M. Speakman recently graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base.

During the six weeks of training, Speakman studied the Air Force mission, organization and military customs and courtesies; performed drill and ceremony marches, and received physical training, rifle marksmanship, field training exercises and special training in human relations.

In addition, airmen who complete basic training earn credits toward an associate degree through the Community College of the Air Force.

Darby is the daughter of Gale Speakman of Mt. Vernon.

The Soldier

I want you to close your eyes and picture in your mind the soldier at Valley Forge, as he holds his musket in his bloody hands.

He stands barefoot in the snow, starved from lack of food, wounded from months of battle and emotionally scarred from the eternity away from his family, surrounded by nothing but death and carnage of war. He stands tough, with fire in his eyes and victory on his breath. He looks at us now in anger and disgust and tells us this:

I gave you the birthright of freedom born in the Constitution and now your children graduate too illiterate to read it.

I fought in the snow barefoot to give you the freedom to vote, and you stayed home because it rains.

I left my family destitute to give you the freedom of speech and you remain silent on critical issues, because it might be bad for business.

I orphaned my children to give you a government to serve you and it has stolen democracy from the people.

It's the soldier, not the reporter, who gives you freedom of press.

It's the soldier, not the poet, who gives you freedom of speech.

It's the soldier, not the campus organizer, who allows you to demonstrate.

It's the soldier who salutes the flag, whose coffin is draped with the flag that allows the protester to burn the flag!

"Lord hold up our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. Amen."

- Author unknown

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