• 06/24/2024

    2024 Freedom in America, A Colorado Opinion

    February 2, 2024
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    Image by Henning 48. 2024 Freedom in America

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    The views presented are those of the author and do not represent the views of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, or its components.

    Through my prior military service, I have been fortunate to be part of a number national events affecting our nation. In the 1990s, I was part of the supporting operations with our nation's military involvement in the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. After 9/11, I supported major events such as Security for National Political Conventions, Space Shuttle Standby Astronaut Rescue Operations, Military Planning and Execution for Helicopter Rescue Operations in New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina, 2007 DOD Global Pandemic Influenza Plan, and a number of Earthquake Response Exercises. I also served in Cheyenne Mountain as NORAD USNORTHCOM Command Center Director working the initial Fort Hood Shooting event, Northwest Airlines Underwear Bomber, security for the Vancouver Winter Olympics and a numerous other national events.

    Having served as Command Center Director gives one a unique view of what is going on in the world. While I cannot discuss any specifics, I can talk about what a unique honor it was to maintain the watch over America to protect and defend over 300 million fellow citizens.

    NORAD and USNORTHCOM maintain the watch 24/7/365 to protect and defend the nation. Its a duty directly protecting our Homeland and our citizens. Many military and civilian people work hard daily to make sure the nation is protected. I commend my former and current colleagues for doing their duty to the nation.

    We now see many warning signs happening to our country that were not there before. While our nation's unity is our strength, the USA has been pushed into division. Its such a contrast from the world of Joint military operations I worked with in earlier days. It appears both external and internal threats have grown over the last several years. Why is this happening and why does it matter?

    America used to be a melting pot where diverse backgrounds and opinions were welcome and made us a unique place in the world. We were allowed to have our own opinions, i.e. no censorship. These diverse opinions helped shape better products and processes improving the quality of life for most everyone in this country. Now it appears both internal and external threats are amongst us and diverse points of view are no longer welcome in our society. These external and internal threats foisted upon us have created a divided society we did not ask for. It matters because in the past, the goal was to follow through on the Declaration of Independence's pursuit of Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness. We no longer "are allowed" to pursue these self-evident truths, or so they say.

    So what do we do about this? We do everything through peaceful actions and persistence. We get to know our neighbors better. We pay attention to what is going on in our neighborhood, churches and cities. We make a decision to get involved by attending church, school, and community meetings. We voice our opinions. We write letters to key people. We vote. We honor our Founding Fathers and early Americans by taking a peaceful stand on issues that matter to us and finding a local way to peacefully make our voices heard.

    Having sat in the Command Center Director's chair, I can see the internal and external threats. Don't let others do the work or be a keyboard opinion in some echo chamber. Get involved and be part of the solution in a peaceful and patriotic way. It's the person in the mirror that will make all the difference in the our (your) world. Now, stop the excuses and go do it! Lets put Land of the Free, because of the brave back into America!

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    Jim Zietlow

    Colonel Jim Zietlow, USAF retired, is a US Air Force Academy graduate, served as a T-38 and T-41 Instructor Pilot and worldwide as a C-5 Instructor Pilot and Flight Examiner. He served as a C-5/C-17 Program Manager at the Pentagon followed by a special assignment to the Secretary of the Air Force, Office of US Congressional Legislative Liaison, Weapon Systems Division during the 9/11/2001 era. Following 9/11, Jim transferred to HQ NORAD USNORTHCOM in their Homeland Defense and Civil Support missions serving as a Program Manager, Military Plans Branch Chief culminating his military career as HQ NORAD USNORTHCOM Command Center Director. The views presented are those of the author and do not represent the views of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, or its components.
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