For All Nails #273: Graduation Day
by David Mix Barrington
- Remarks of Lt. Col. (inactive) Christine Lillehammer, CNAAF,
- at the 41st commencement ceremonies of the Air Force Academy FN1
My Lord Commandant, Governor MacPherson, Grand Councilors, distinguished guests, my brother and sister officers, and, most importantly, you who are about to join me as brother and sister officers -- I am honored to be invited to speak here this morning, amidst these beautiful buildings that were my home for three years, as they have been your home.
Of course I tried to catch a glimpse of Marlborough City from orbit, but as it turned out we never came far enough to the north. The Rocky Mountain Wall, though, that was easy enough to find -- the end of the endless prairie that the founders of Fort Marlborough had to cross, and that my own forebears in Northern Vandalia had to cross. It was a hard passage, against the wind [laughter], but they made it in the end, just as you have now made it across three years of rigorous training, and we in the Program have made it around the Earth and back.
It has been a confusing three years for you all, I know. You entered these walls, as I did, expecting to leave them as King's officers in the Royal Confederation of North America Air Force. Instead you join what is now simply the CNAAF, you salute a new flag, and you swear your oath of allegiance to a President rather than to His Royal Majesty FN2. I understand your confusion -- I'm a bit confused as well to find old symbols replaced by new ones, and to find that our cousins have become our enemies.
It must have been just as confusing, I imagine, for the ancient Hebrews. Every other tribe in their world had a god or gods that could be seen and touched, a stone idol or a golden calf. Only the God of the Hebrews could not be seen and touched -- they were told that He is everywhere, pervading everything, including everything, to be experienced only through faith and prayer but every bit as real as the idol or the calf. Those noble people were pioneers, my friends, journeying forward to new ideas at the same time they journeyed forward to new lands. A God who could not be seen or felt. Confusing. Confusing but true, as we now know whatever faith we follow or however we conceive of the Infinite. The Hebrews left those idols behind and journeyed forward to the truth.
In the same way, my friends, our Confederation of North America cannot be seen or felt. What do I mean? Did I not look down from Outer Space upon a goodly portion of our nation at one time? No, my friends, I saw the land of the Confederation, but the land alone is not the Confederation, though I love the land as only a farmer's daughter can love it. The Confederation is not the person of a King or the metal idol of a crown. It is not the land alone or the people alone, but an idea that cannot be seen or felt, that pervades the land, pervades the people, includes them all. Confusing, you say? Confusing but true.
The idea of an unseen, more-than-material God made the Hebrew people what they were and are, a great people, proud of the beauties of their tradition, the justice of their laws, the acheivements of their men and women. Are we in the Confederation of North America a great people? We have many glories to our credit. We have peopled a vast continent, established peace and prosperity with justice for white and Negro alike, built a society that is the envy of the world. After the devastation of the Global War, it was the energy and labor of our young people, and the resolve of our nation to support them, that offered a New Day for all. And yes, we are the nation that has begun the exploration of Outer Space. [Applause]
Thank you. Thank you, all of us in the Program appreciate your support, and some day, my friends, we will resume our physical journey forward. FN3 But in the meantime, my friends, I want to ask you -- how should our nation's spiritual journey go forward, and how are you, each of you, going to help it go forward? For you, my new brother and sister officers, part of the answer is obvious. You will go where you are sent, fly where you are sent, to project the strength of the Confederation and uphold the honour of the Confederation. Some of you will guard our borders and our shores. Some of you will help design and test the airmobiles and even the spacemobiles of the future. And some of you will fight, and some of you will die, as some of our brothers and sisters have already died, defending the freedom of our neighbors in this hemisphere. FN4
Fighting and dying is part of our spritual journey forward, my friends, because a great nation must be ready to fight for its ideals, to use its strength to support its ideals. Our ideal is a peaceful world where each nation is free to govern its own affairs and prosper through fair and peaceful commerce, and your service will help to bring that world about. But our journey forward has other components.
Let me speak for a moment to my new sister officers. This is a proud day for you, my sisters, because like the classes before you, you have proved that women can fly airmobiles as well as men. [Applause] I will not say better than men. [Laughter] Not today. [Laughter] Side by side with your brothers in the classroom and in the air, you have shown that when women are given the opportunity to succeed in a new realm of endeavour, they can do it. Part of your journey forward is toward a nation and a world where all women have such opportunities. [Applause]
I am not complaining, my sisters, about the nation and the world as it is. How can I complain, when I and my sisters in the Program have been given an opportunity so far denied to all men? But I want women to be given new opportunity because I've seen what happens when women are given opportunity. They can be physicians, not only the grey-clad angels of mercy around the world but medical scientists like my friend Dr. April Levine, who is studying how free fall affects the bodies of space pilots. They can be physicists like my friend Dr. Shirley Sterling, who is unlocking the secrets of the universe in ways I can't begin to understand. FN5 They can be militia officers, fire brigadiers, barristers, business owners, when given the opportunity. [Applause]
The Confederation pervades both its land and its people. The greatness of the Confederation is all around us and within each of us. As your duty is to fly and to fight if need be for the Confederation's greatness, every citizen has a duty to add to the Confederation's greatness, to build a nation of peace, freedom, prosperity, and opportunity. [Applause] You, my sisters and my brothers, can show them the way. Congratulations again on your success here, and may God bless you in your individual and collective journeys forward. [Applause]
Forward to FAN #274: A Call to Barms.
Forward to 18 June 1976: Fantascience Friction.
Forward to Space flight, CNA politics: Kaffeeklatsch.
Return to For All Nails.