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The indomitable will of an Airman

By 2nd Lt. Christopher P. Sullivan 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Each of us took an oath to serve our country and devote every part of our being to her defense. It takes a quick look through "the little blue book," AFI 1-1, Air Force Standards, to understand the gravity of this commitment. The first page streams valuable information about our mission, our core values and the oath. Of this information, the part that jumps from the page is the fact that all Airmen take this oath voluntarily. Each of us raised our hand and made a promise to the American people and ourselves that we will "protect and defend [our] American freedoms, and agree to live by a set of military rules and standards."

We have devoted our lives to a higher calling and hold each other to a standard well above what is expected of the average man or woman. The commitment we have to these standards is no more evident than in our physical appearance and dedication to fitness. Maintaining a high degree of physical readiness is not easy. It requires discipline, dedication and pride. These are words which still echo through the halls of our basic military training sites.

Physical fitness is a pillar that stands tall among the components of both personal wellness and the whole-person concept. Physical fitness is also a choice. There is no physical training program established that can set an Airman up to succeed unless they are is prepared to push themselves further than what is comfortable. It doesn't take the largest muscles, the longest legs or even the best genetics to achieve an excellent score on the PT test: It takes the ability to motivate yourself and the drive to exceed the standard.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, "Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." For many of us, the first experience we had with that indomitable will was an angry man or woman in a campaign hat who would not let us quit and never accept mediocrity. That same force is present in every Airman: The discipline to handle adversity, the dedication to push through tough assignments when the resources seem unavailable, and the pride we share when standing side-by-side bloody, bruised and tired, but never beaten. This same will can be harnessed when confronting the challenges of physical fitness.

When consistently being given directions and orders to follow, it is easy for us to forget where true motivation comes from. The drive that pushes an Airman toward achievement does not come from a man with heavy-weighted sleeves or a heavy-weighted collar; it is derived from an internal source. Whether it be the motivation to gain rank and succeed in the Air Force, or the motivation to drag our carcasses around a quarter mile track for nine to thirteen minutes, it is a matter of discipline, dedication and pride.

A PT test is not merely an evaluation. It is a challenge of our ability to cope with day-to-day activities, pursue our own physical fitness goals, and overcome internal/external conflict. This is the essence of being an Airman and the essence of why physical standards are so important. We may have been in separate locations at separate times; but together we raised our hands and took an oath, and together we work to defend our American freedoms. It is the set of military rules and standards which we swore to live our lives by that enable us to defend those freedoms. When given a standard, we have two choices: meet that standard or exceed that standard. Nothing else can or will be acceptable.