I’m in the process of mailing my Air Force patch and memorabilia collection to a collector named Tags (short for “name tags”), so I’ll have to go out of sequence for a while in order to post my remaining patches on the blog prior to mailing them away. Some people sell their patches and mementos online to the highest bidder, but for a variety of reasons I’m giving mine away for free to Tags to add to his growing collection that helps to tell the USAFE and NATO story of fighter aviation in Europe. I still have family photos from Ramstein AB remaining to post later on, but for the moment I’ll post the remaining patches that I have from Spangdahlem AB, Germany; RAF Mildenhall, UK and RAF Lakenheath, UK – along with a few other patches I have swapped for along the way.
Our family doesn’t sell anything that we’ve owned once we’re finished with them – except for cars and houses of course – which we’d probably give away as well if we could afford to. We feel blessed that we had the opportunity to use these things during the time we owned them, and in addition to keeping them in the best condition that we can along the way, we see the process of giving away our possessions as good stewardship. We’ve been blessed and now we can pass that on to someone else, and as I’ve said – you can’t take them with you in the end anyway.
Another equally important reason for giving our things away, is because I don’t want to be defined by them. We are not our things and our things aren’t us. This releases us from clinging to material possessions, and for over 24 years now of giving things away, we’ve never missed an item that we’ve given away to someone else for free. As for my squadron patches in particular, they were all given to me for free by the squadrons that I was assigned to in the first place. Sure I paid for my name tags, beer mugs and coffee cups – but that is such a small price in comparison with the slice of history they represent.
Many people view the value of their lives as the sum total of the number of possessions they own. These people choose to gather more “toys” than the next guy down the street as a sign that they’ve really “made it.” The value that I see in all of my Air Force memorabilia collected throughout my career, is the number of people who are now living in freedom around the world due to the service of millions of others like me who have decided to spend their lives defending freedom throughout the ages: civilians and military personnel, religious leaders and statesmen, politicians and normal everyday citizens like you and me. I see millions of free people living today because of the sacrifices we’ve all made to get us to this point, and I only hope for the world that others will do the same in the future.
I hope that one day Tags’ collections will be displayed in a museum dedicated to the USAFE and NATO fighter air crews that contributed in keeping the flame of freedom burning brightly around the globe. Freedom isn’t free of course, and many have given everything so that we can live as free people today. There are still people living in our world that don’t know freedom, and there are still people in the world who would like to take our freedom away from us. We must never forget those who yearn for freedom and don’t have it, or allow those who would take it away to succeed. To live in freedom is everyone’s right and to defend the rights of others is a special privilege and calling in life – that I’m proud to have been a part of – and which I will continue to pursue through this blog and in every capacity that I can.
Tomorrow is the ninth anniversary of 9/11, and I for one will not give an inch to the terrorists that planned and attacked the Twin Towers in New York City that terrible morning. I’m not going to live my life in fear and intimidation of terrorists or terrorism. In case they haven’t figured it out by now, my name is Mark D. Jones and I live in Tucson, Arizona, USA. My P.O. Box is listed in this blog as well as my email address. If you don’t understand why freedom and democracy are so important to all the people of the world, then send me a question and I’ll personally explain it to you. People will always yearn to be free and to have a decision in how their lives are governed. They all want to prosper and to have better lives for their children than they had for themselves. We are beautifully made in the image of God, and should live our lives in peace and love – not hatred and terrorism. Embrace love and peace will follow. Embrace freedom and democracy will prosper and the world will live in harmony not chaos – in brotherhood not violence. That’s the only solution forward for everyone to go.
Enjoy the patches and photos – it’s been my privilege to have served in the cause of freedom – for you.