A day of service Published Sept. 11, 2012 By Lt. Gen. Darren W. McDew Commander, 18th Air Force AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- In 2009, Congress designated September 11th as a National Day of Service and Remembrance. On this day, I think it is fitting that we remember and honor the innocent lives taken during that vicious attack by renewing our commitment of service to our Nation. As the son of an Air Force NCO, I grew up among people who were proud to serve their country and who understood the importance of what we do. They understood that security and freedom depends on men and women who are willing to make incredible sacrifices for others and who are ready to answer the call when it is given. I see those same values reflected today among the Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who are proud members of the world's finest joint team. Together, we understand that no one else can do what we do. The United States military has been and remains the foundation of our national security. American service members embody the ideal of selfless service. Just ask the thousands of Haitian, Japanese, or Libyan families alive today because of the hand of friendship we extended. There are few examples of our the value of service that are more poignant. The events of 9/11 reminded us that we live in a complex, dangerous world. Today, we continue to face many challenges: fiscal uncertainty, regional instability, and a seemingly insatiable appetite for the capabilities we deliver. But I am optimistic that we will continue to succeed, as we always have. By any objective standard, we have the finest military in our history and the finest in the world. It remains our intent and obligation to the American people and our fellow service members to remain the best. Thanks to your dedicated service and commitment to excellence, I am confident we will continue to honor that obligation without fail. Take a moment this day to reflect not only on the great loss we experienced on 9/11 but also on your responsibility in the face of it. Think of the importance of your commitment to our military and our Nation. I hope you'll realize that the greatest legacy of that terrible day is a positive one: a renewal of your commitment in that fundamental core value - service before self. Thank you for your dedicated service to our military and to America.