Spirit of America dinner honors Armed Forces
By Staff Sgt. Clinton Atkins, Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs
/ Published November 14, 2011
SAN ANTONIO -- Six hundred military and community members came together to honor the accomplishments and sacrifices of the U.S. Armed Forces during the Spirit of America dinner here Nov. 9.
The dinner was part of Celebrate America's Military, an annual San Antonio celebration to show a grateful nation's appreciation for past, present and future Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen. This year's CAM takes place Oct. 28 - Nov. 13.
"Tonight's event is the culmination, and kind of the formal event that we have... to recognize the contributions of the military to the community," said Don Taylor, retired Air Force colonel and CAM chairman.
"For 41 years the chamber has recognized the presence of the military in their community, and how they not only contribute daily to economic issues in the community but also how they just live among us," the chairman said. "Through their volunteerism and participation they affect the culture of San Antonio, and this is just the way the city says thank you."
Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Phil Breedlove delivered the keynote address for the evening.
"It is an honor to be here with you all tonight to be part of this incredible event," the general said. "I came here my first time in May of 1979 for flying training. I was impressed with the city then, and I'm even more impressed with it now."
Breedlove went on to discuss the current operational and fiscal challenges the service is facing.
"Looking forward, the Air Force faces a multi-year effort to recapitalize our aging tanker, fighter, bomber and ISR forces; modernize our satellite constellations; meet the dynamic requirements of the new cyber domain; and replace aging airplanes for pilot training--like right here at Randolph--vertical lift, presidential support and the list goes on," he said.
The general explained that even as the Air Force operates in a demanding operational environment, current and future fiscal constraints will force the service to make tough decisions.
"The debt reduction plans of both the president and Congress significantly curtail federal spending, and the Department of Defense will be required to do its part in reducing our national deficit," he said. "As such, we need to re-envision what we want our defense partners to be able to do, and we need to be able to continue to promise that America's military will be able to answer the call."
No matter what lies ahead, the general said the U.S. Armed Forces has the knowledge and expertise to adapt and overcome.
"There is a proud tradition of military service in the state of Texas," Breedlove said, "as well as a proud tradition of community support for our military members assigned to this city. On behalf of [Air Force Chief of Staff] Gen. Norton Schwartz, and the 690,000 Airmen in our Air Force, I thank you all."
The CAM chairman closed the evening with words of appreciation for the service members in attendance.
"You, the men and women of the Armed Forces, are our true heroes," Taylor said. "We respect you and appreciate you."