Presidents Day, our Airmen and American freedom

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Originally observed only as Washington’s Birthday to celebrate the life and accomplishments of our first president, Presidents Day has expanded to honor all presidents of the United States.

Each president is unique in contributing to the shaping of our country. The first president, George Washington, was the Electoral College’s unanimous choice for president, and he served as a unifying force for the new nation. Abraham Lincoln maintained the Union through the Civil War and abolished slavery. Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981, which resulted in the desegregation of the Armed Services. 

These are just a few presidents among the many we have had in our lineage of leadership who have made significant contributions in shaping America. 

Presidents Day also reminds us of the scope of our liberty in its very name and subject. The United States of America is “The Grand Experiment” of democracy because it is the first country with governance and leadership that is “by the people, for the people.” 

George Washington said, “The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty … is finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American People.” We have the privilege and responsibility of choosing our representatives and exercising democratic opportunities many other countries do not have.

As a particular reminder in this presidential election year, keep in mind that there are political activities of federal employees that are prohibited by law. While it is a freedom of Americans to vote, the Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from activities such as campaigning while on duty, in the federal workplace, wearing an official uniform or insignia, or using a government vehicle. Keep this in consideration especially as we move closer to elections.

Whatever your personal plans for the weekend, whether they involve travel or enjoying time at home, remember there is no Air Force without you — our Airmen. 

You are vital in preserving our hard-won freedoms that even our very first president worked to establish. The efforts we put forth and the results we accomplish together are a connection with George Washington and the founding of our nation. 

Our essential task of delivering combat power for America ensures our continued freedoms today and tomorrow, and it is my honor to serve alongside you.

Your fellow Airman,

Lee K. Levy II

Lieutenant General, USAF Commander