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Thousands gather in Trafalgar Square on Thursday March 23, 2017 for a candlelight vigil remembering the victims of the Westminster Bridge/Parliament terror attack that took place yesterday in London, England. Mayor Sadiq Khan, Home Secretary Amber Rudd, and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Craig Mackey addressed the crowd and lit candles, reaffirming London’s united front against terrorism.

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Organisers say that “at least 250,000” people took part in the march, which began in Tavistock Square and ended in Westminster, where speakers including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn addressed the crowd.

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Thank you to all who serve, who have served, and who will serve…your sacrifices do not go unnoticed. #ArmedForcesDay

 

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Joining forces for the first time, members of Air Force’s 10th Medical Group and Ft Carson’s Evans Army Community Hospital come together for a medical simulation training at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo on April 28, 2016. (Air Force photo/Liz Copan/released)
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Washington Redskins QB Colt McCoy spoke on leadership and professionalism at the Air Force Academy’s National Character and Leadership Symposium on Feb 25-26, 2016 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Students, faculty, and guests listen to NFL former Cleveland Browns and current Washington Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy speak on professionalism and leadership at the Air Force Academy's 23rd annual National Character and Leadership Symposium (NCLS) on

The University of Texas golden boy from 2006-2009 (2008 Walter Camp Award winner, 2008 Heisman runner up, 2009 Heisman finalist) and former Cleveland Browns quarterback from 2010-2013, McCoy emphasized the role of leadership and accountability both on and off the field.Students, faculty, and guests listen to NFL former Cleveland Browns and current Washington Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy speak on professionalism and leadership at the Air Force Academy's 23rd annual National Character and Leadership Symposium (NCLS) on

Students, faculty, and guests listen to NFL former Cleveland Browns and current Washington Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy speak on professionalism and leadership at the Air Force Academy's 23rd annual National Character and Leadership Symposium (NCLS) on
Students, faculty, and guests listen to NFL former Cleveland Browns and current Washington Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy speak on professionalism and leadership at the Air Force Academy's 23rd annual National Character and Leadership Symposium (NCLS) on
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Class of 2015, you are dismissed!

The U.S. Air Force Academy Class of 2015 tosses their hats in celebration as The USAF Thunderbirds roar over Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo. May 28, 2015. Over 800 cadets graduated and became 2d Lieutenants. Deborah Lee James, the Secretary of the Air Force gave the Graduation Address.  (Air Force photo by Liz Copan) (released)
The U.S. Air Force Academy Class of 2015 tosses their hats in celebration as The USAF Thunderbirds roar over Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo. May 28, 2015. Over 800 cadets graduated and became 2d Lieutenants. Deborah Lee James, the Secretary of the Air Force gave the Graduation Address. (Air Force photo by Liz Copan) (released)

I couldn’t be more proud of “my kids.”

I say my kids because four years ago I watched them; wide-eyed, insecure adolescents filled with a mixture of hope, fear, and uncertainty, “doolies,” some barely 18 years of age.

The U.S. Air Force Academy Class of 2015 celebrates after sending their hats skyward as the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds roared over Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo. May 28, 2015. Over 800 cadets graduated and became 2d Lieutenants. Deborah Lee James, the Secretary of the Air Force gave the Graduation Address.  (Air Force photo by Liz Copan) (released)

Through my lens, I have watched them grow and mature into women and men of great strength, integrity, and character, who will one day be tasked with leading our country.

Among the newest batch of second lieutenants, 360 will directly attend pilot training, 89 will work in space and cyber space fields, 89 will attend graduate school and 44 will join nuclear missile operations.

I still have a difficult time parallel parking, let alone flying a fighter jet (which is amongst one of the many reasons I am an artist).

840 hats were tossed in the air, voices raised in celebration as the F-4 Thunderbirds echoed their roaring sentiments.

You’re not kids any longer, congratulations Class of 2015.
US Air Force Academy Class of 2015 Graduation
 

Take Back the Night 2015: ‘Shattering the Silence’

Cadet squadrons, athletic teams and other units here designed T-shirts campaigning against sexual violence, including slogans such as
Cadet squadrons, athletic teams and other units here designed T-shirts campaigning against sexual violence, including slogans such as “Hurts one, affects all,” “Stand up, speak out” and “H.O.P.E.– Hold on, pain ends” during the Academy’s second annual Take Back the Night event April 16, 2015 at the Cadet Field House and Clune Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo. (Air Force photo/Liz Copan)

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Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James provided opening remarks.
Nearly 400 red glow sticks glisten to represent the number of sexual assault victims here in the last 10 years, at the Academy's second annual Take Back the Night event April 16. Cadets heard messages from Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Katie Koestner, the first survivor of date rape to speak out nationally. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Liz Copan)
Nearly 400 red glow sticks glisten to represent the number of sexual assault victims here in the last 10 years, at the Academy’s second annual Take Back the Night event April 16. Cadets heard messages from Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Katie Koestner, the first survivor of date rape to speak out nationally. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Liz Copan)

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Veteran’s Day — Recognizing our Heroes

Despite being bombarded by advertisements, promotions and “too big to miss sales events,” today is November 11, 2014 and it is Veteran’s Day once again. This day is one of the few times out of a busy year the general public acknowledges the sacrifices and contributions our service members have made (or in the retail industry, a new sales flyer and some flashy graphics).

Patriot Guard Rider Daniel Cisneros holds a flag as the casket of Capt. Ryan P. Hall arrives at the Shrine of Remembrance in Colorado Springs, CO on March 9th, 2012. Members of The Patriot Guard Riders escorted the body of Capt. Hall from Peterson Air Force Base to the Shrine of Remembrance.  Capt. Hall died Feb. 18th, 2012 when his U-28A was involved in an accident near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, located in the Horn of Africa. (US Air Force Photo/Liz Copan)
Patriot Guard Rider Daniel Cisneros holds a flag as the casket of Capt. Ryan P. Hall arrives at the Shrine of Remembrance in Colorado Springs, CO on March 9th, 2012. Members of The Patriot Guard Riders escorted the body of Capt. Hall from Peterson Air Force Base to the Shrine of Remembrance. Capt. Hall died Feb. 18th, 2012 when his U-28A was involved in an accident near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, located in the Horn of Africa. (US Air Force Photo/Liz Copan)

I am privileged to work with these remarkable men and women every day, and I can tell you it is truly an honor to have them enrich the tapestry of our legacy with their service.

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Never to be ridden by its owner again, the motorcycle belonging to Capt David I. Lyon is parked for the funeral of the 2008 Air Force Academy graduate who was killed in Afghanistan on December 27, 2013. Lyon was buried in the USAFA cemetery in Colorado Springs, Colo. January 8, 2014. (Air Force photo/Liz Copan 

We ask so much from them, much more than most of us are willing to give of ourselves. As Americans, we have been conditioned to presume our liberties and freedom will always be there. Even I often take it for granted that there will be someone else to fight for it.

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Funeral service for LtCol Morris “Moose” M Fontenot Jr on Oct 3, 2014 at the Air Force Academy Cemetery in Colorado Springs, Colo.

So please, the next time you see a veteran (yes, even the less glamorized former heroes, dejected, crusty, and seemingly defeated begging for change outside of your local WalMart) remember that their service and story matters.

Their sacrifices matter.

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Members of the Colorado Patriot Guard Riders await the casket of LtCol Morris “Moose” M Fontenot Jr on Oct 3, 2014 at the Air Force Academy Cemetery in Colorado Springs, Colo. Fontenot died Aug. 27 when his F-15 crashed near the Shenandoah Valley in western Virginia. A 1996 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, he had most recently served as commander of the 67th Fighter Squadron based in Kadena Air Force Base in Japan. He served as a squadron commander at multiple locations. Following active-duty assignments in Washington, D.C., Japan, Idaho, Florida, Alaska and numerous deployments in the Middle East, Fontenot joined the Massachusetts Air National Guard in February. He had more than 2,300 flying hours, including 240 combat hours. His decorations included a Meritorious Service Medal, an Air Medal, an Aerial Achievement Medal, an Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal and Combat Readiness Medal. (Air Force photo/Liz Copan)

BCT in Jacks Valley – 07-22-2014

Basic Cadet Ashlen Bible strains to hold her M16-A2 rifle above her head during a training drill in Jacks Valley, Colorado Springs, Colo. on July 22, 2014. (Air Force photo/Liz Copan)
Basic Cadet Ashlen Bible strains to hold her M16-A2 rifle above her head during a training drill in Jacks Valley, Colorado Springs, Colo. on July 22, 2014. (Air Force photo/Liz Copan)

 

 

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National Police Week Motorcycle Run

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Dozens of Air Force and civilian law enforcement officials hit the highway in Colorado Springs late last week for the 2014 National Police Week Motorcycle Run to pay tribute to U.S. law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. (US Air Force photo/Liz Copan)
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A leather-clad rider blows a kiss after a moment of silence commemorating those who have fallen in the line of duty. Ten security forces Airmen have lost their lives since 2005, including 1st Lt. Joseph Helton, an Academy graduate killed in Iraq Sept. 8, 2009 by an improvised explosive device. (Air Force photo/Liz Copan)
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In 1962, President Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and that calendar week as National Police Week. Established by Congress in 1962, National Police Week recognizes officers killed in the line of duty.
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The May 22 run took the riders through Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Peterson Air Force Base, Schriever AFB, Fort Carson, and to the terrazzo outside the Cadet Chapel where they paused for a moment of silence. (US Air Force photo/Liz Copan)