Fourth of July: Remembering the spirit of American boldness

Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, the superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)

Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, the superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)


Two-hundred-forty-one years ago, the visionary founders of our nation began a bold experiment, pledging their lives to become champions of the cause of liberty and joining together in defiance to build the foundation for a fledgling republic. With their brave stand, they created a system of government like none before, one rooted in equality and founded on the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They understood the citizens of the new nation would need to take up arms to make good on the promise of the new government. They knew not where the journey would take them, when it would end or if they would survive, but were armed with a fervent belief that their cause was worthy of great sacrifice. History has proven them right.

Sometimes to achieve great progress, bold leaps are required without knowing where or when your next step might land. This spirit of American boldness is the spirit of our Air Force, and it is crucial to our Air Force Academy’s mission of training and educating our future leaders. With that spirit in mind, we welcomed our newest class of cadets, the Class of 2021, who began Basic Cadet Training June 29. We also welcome their transformative journey toward joining the Long Blue Line. We congratulate this newest class on accepting our challenge and taking the first of many leaps required along their difficult but fruitful flightpath here.

A wealth of experiences, opportunities and possibilities awaits the Class of 2021, and I’m proud these daring leaps into the unknown are not uncommon at our Academy. We need look no further than our Wings of Blue parachute team who recently added 21 new team members from the Class of 2019, or the cadet whose chemistry project turned into a breakthrough in body armor technology and received national media coverage. There are the many stories in the proud history of our nearly 50,000 graduates; one is on the International Space station and another was recently named to the newest class of NASA astronauts.

On July 4, 1776, American patriots in the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence and stepped out into the unknown as the “new guards for their future security.” As we reflect upon our history, let us all, from the most senior of our faculty and staff to the newest of our cadets, strive to emulate the courage, boldness and intellectual innovation of our founders. Continue to take leaps into the unknown. The great American experiment endures through this spirit, and through the selfless service of those who are bold enough to embody it.

As you enjoy a much-deserved long weekend this Fourth of July, be proud of your role in developing the future guardians of our security, welcome with excitement the unknown possibilities this newest class brings, and look forward to seeing what they will become for our Academy, for our Air Force and our nation.

To our entire USAFA family, thank you for all that you do and have a safe and happy 4th of July.