HomeNewsArticle Display

Updating our alma mater to celebrate all of us

Changes to U.S. Air Force Song

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein shares his thoughts on changes made to the third verse of the U.S. Air Force song. (U.S. Air Force courtesy graphic)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- As a second-generation Airman and an Air Force Academy graduate, I cherish our storied heritage and the sacrifices of all the trailblazers who made our Academy and the Air Force what they are today. As the 21st chief of staff, I am equally proud of today’s exceptional men and women who make us the greatest Air Force on the planet.

Holding dear these two unmistakable realities — our rich heritage and who we are today — underpin my decision to update the U.S. Air Force Song. I have authorized Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, Class of 1985, USAFA superintendent, to use a new version of the third verse of the U.S. Air Force Song, our Alma Mater, that better reflects the reality of today’s force by celebrating all who have — and will — step up to serve.

Most of us can remember standing in Falcon Stadium or at Clune Arena facing West Point (U.S. Military Academy) or Annapolis (U.S. Naval Academy) cadets following a spectacular win at 6,000 feet. Over the past two years, I have been honored to attend the women’s service academy volleyball tournament played at the Pentagon. Our team crushed the competition last year. At the end of the match, I stood with our brave women and sang our alma mater.

These are the women we will ask to go into combat and fight just as women have done for a generation. Yet this version of the song, their alma mater, was not about them. The version we all sang offered, “a toast to the host of the men we boast.” Across the court stood athletes from Annapolis, which changed its alma mater in 2004, and those from West Point, whose song changed in 2008. It is time for us to change.

Last year, a team of Airmen and cadets at the Academy updated the lyrics based on bedrock principles. Our song must reflect our history, the inspiring service and accomplishments of all who’ve served, and the rich diversity that makes today’s Air Force indisputably the strongest and most capable in the world. While I’ve asked Gen. Silveria and our Air Force Academy to lead this change, we’ll also take a hard look at whether further updates may be warranted for the other verses of the song.

Valid as this rationale is, these changes will draw notice and spark debate. The Air Force song is such a powerful and enduring touchstone that has been sung at countless funerals and ceremonies. Changing it will elicit emotions and opinions.

This is why I must be clear. In making this decision, I respect the views of others who will not agree. But I also know with absolute certainty and clarity that these changes are about adding to, not subtracting from, who we are. Changing the lyrics in no way diminishes the history and accomplishments of men or dilutes our eternal gratitude for their sacrifice and bravery.

These new lyrics speak more accurately to all we do, all that we are and all that we strive to be as a profession of arms. They add proper respect and recognition to everyone who serves and who has served. This respect and recognition is not only appropriate, it is fully earned.

There are plenty of inspiring examples of courageous women leading us in combat and in service. Retired Col. Martha McSally, Class of 1988, was the first woman in the Air Force to serve as the commander of any combat aviation squadron, to include fighters and bombers. She now serves as a U.S. senator from Arizona.

Capt. Amy Lynn Svoboda, Class of 1989, is another. Her squadron’s training officer, Svoboda was killed flying her A-10 Thunderbolt II during a night training mission. While a cadet, she was a member of the women’s volleyball team, and every year the Amy Svoboda Award is given to the player who best exemplifies selfless service.

Let me share as well the story of Maj. Adrianna M. Vorderbruggen, Class of 2002 and a highly regarded special agent with the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations, who was killed in 2015 by a suicide bomber while stationed in Afghanistan. She was one of six Airmen killed in the attack at Bagram Airfield in what was the single deadliest attack since 2013. All served with OSI or Air Force security forces.

This is who we are. We will never forget our history. Our song embodies our ethos and must be inclusive of all who raise their right hand and take the solemn oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. We freely take this oath without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.

When I walk the sacred grounds of Arlington National Cemetery this Memorial Day as I do every year and visit the Airmen killed under my command as the Combined Forces Air Component Commander in the Middle East, I will visit men and women buried side by side. Such is the nature of combat. It does not discriminate. Neither should we.

New Verse III

Here's a toast to the host

Of those who love the vastness of the sky,

To a friend we send a message of the brave who serve on high.

We drink to those who gave their all of old,

Then down we roar to score the rainbow's pot of gold.

A toast to the host of those we boast, the U.S. Air Force!

 

Engage

Twitter
One team one fight @366FW's Capt. Aaron Tindall is the 1st Airman to graduate from the @USNavy Airborne Electronic… https://t.co/mvfn30OnLP
Twitter
Give @GenCQBrownJr a follow for the latest on how he's leading the charge to accelerate change throughout the… https://t.co/LtDGcVwsKi
Twitter
Honoring a pioneer. Join us in celebrating the life and legacy of Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager live, noon EST. Live c… https://t.co/0aFqKjSWyO
Twitter
RT @CalGuard: Airmen from the Cal Guard's 144th Fighter Wing in Fresno are stepping up to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. #TheVirusStops
Twitter
Pilot Training Next For the 1st time in @AFSpecOpsCmd history, two new graduates from @AETCommand's Pilot Training… https://t.co/TPOIM1KDEl
Twitter
Celebrating service. @GenCQBrownJr and @SpaceForceCSO thanked @SecAFOfficial Barbara Barrett for her service duri… https://t.co/0uo2BGRrq9
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: The remarkable consistency, the universality, in the @USAirForce & @SpaceForceDoD is the goodness of our people. Every d…
Twitter
Providing strategic depth The @USAFReserve’s T-56-15A engine Centralized Repair Facility, supported by the 913th A… https://t.co/wGHrc7Zdid
Twitter
RT @USAfricaCommand: First members of AFRICOM vaccinated against #COVID19 "It doesn’t mean we can let up, doesn’t mean we can’t keep follo…
Twitter
RT @HQ_AFMC: Our AFMC essential Airmen continue to receive the first round of #COVID19 vaccines, with the latest at @HAFB and @RobinsAFB_GA
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Thank you to all @USAirForce #Airmen & @SpaceForceDoD #Guardians for safeguarding our Nation and the principles that def…
Twitter
RT @cmsaf_official: Life has a way of throwing us curveballs. How we deal with those moments is part of who we are. How we help others deal…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Received a COVID-19 vaccination yesterday alongside @USECAF_Manasco, @GenCQBrownJr, and @cmsaf_official. As the vaccine…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: The Nation’s Reserve Citizen Airmen didn’t let 2020 deter them. Check out how the 419th Fighter Wing continued its legacy…
Twitter
Give @GenCQBrownJr a follow for the latest on how he's leading the charge to accelerate change throughout the… https://t.co/KMqiaTbZNe
Twitter
The future is now. Air Force leadership participated in a virtual B-21 Industry Day event to increase industry awa… https://t.co/arNkumnouq
Twitter
RT @USAfricaCommand: Since the onset of #COVID19, a whole-of-government approach has enabled multiple #HumanitarianAssistance donations to…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,311,700
Follow Us