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Silent Night… Watchful Night

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. --

If you ever want to fully appreciate the definition of the word ‘silent,’ take a walk after midnight on Christmas Eve. More than any other time of year, the world is quieter, more peaceful and more serene. This past Christmas Eve, I took the opportunity to take a walk around Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station to visit our Airmen and civilians on duty as Santa passed overhead. Standing at the front door, I couldn’t help but feel taken aback by the moment. It was so crystal clear you could see Kansas. Christmas lights from across Colorado Springs were all twinkling brighter as the rest of the lights across the Front Range were turned off. With the exception of a handful of folks heading back from midnight Mass or North American Aerospace Defense Command Santa trackers closing up shop, barely a single vehicle was moving anywhere in the city. The roads and highways were black voids evident only by the absence of car lights. No sounds could be heard, no planes were flying, no animals were awake.

Yet, at that moment, what did I find when I turned around? Standing tall at Echo-1, gazing down a dark NORAD road and over the vast, quiet Colorado Front Range were the watchful eyes of two young Security Forces defenders, manning their post on Christmas Eve. The classic quote from a classic movie leapt into my head, “you want me on that wall; you need me on that wall!” It was a stark reminder that our military and first responders always have the watch, even in the quietest moments, unrelenting and unblinking. 

First term Airmen and 30 year civilians are all dedicated to the mission and their mandate to serve. I met them all this Christmas Eve. In the quiet confines of a dark tunnel, a young Air Force Staff Sgt., and a Canadian Warrant Officer watch the missile and air warning, and space surveillance systems assuring no-fail operations. A senior civilian watches the engines of the mountain, assuring our premier National Command and Control Facility is in perfect readiness. A group of young civilians and Airmen stand on ready-alert in the Fire Department, prepared to spring forth to protect our safety, health and welfare, on base and to our local neighboring community.

Our society, and our fellow Americans, are doing great at remembering our deployed members during the holidays, but what I think goes underlooked is that we have family members standing on walls right here at home. Some of our folks, right here next door, have the watch. I hope and encourage everyone to remember them during each holiday. Shake their hand and thank them every chance you get. Whether protecting America’s fortress, maintaining and driving satellites, or watching our skies and borders, we have asked some of our finest Americans here at home to assure the silent night stays a watchful night!