RAF MILDENHALL, England – Every four years people across the globe set their differences aside and rally behind their teams and country, as the finest athletes in their lands compete at the Olympic Games.
The London 2012 Olympic Games serve as a time to bolster national pride, American airmen are among the most diverse groups in the world and serve the American people, an equally diverse mix of people hailing from many backgrounds.
Regardless of background, U.S. airmen come together to complete the mission.
Senior Master Sgt. Ann Svitanek, 100th Maintenance Operations Squadron, describes how she believes standing as one, the Air Force is strong, and relays her excitement for the upcoming Olympic Games.
Svitanek is the 100th MOS Maintenance Operations Flight superintendent and hails from Frankfort, Ill. Here’s what she had to say about the Games:
Question: Describe how you feel the Olympic Games bolster your pride in America.
Answer: I’m a huge sports fan! One of the many things that are so fantastic about being from the United States is all of our teams and sports. From high school to professional athletes and fans, people from all over the states discuss how their team is the best. But when it comes to the Olympics, we are all cheering for the same team, and for those few weeks we are truly united, and all for the love of competition, sportsmanship and pride in our country. Seeing our nation’s colors fly high always brings a tear to my eye and smile to my heart.
Question: If you could watch any two countries play each other at the Olympic event of your choosing, which two countries and which event would you choose and why?
Answer: For the Summer Olympics I enjoy watching the gymnastic events. I still remember seeing Mary Lou Retton on a Wheaties cereal box after winning the gold; it was a classic U.S vs. Russia event. So whenever one of our teams, regardless of the event, competes against each other I will be tuning in to cheer.
Question: Describe the excitement you feel about being stationed in England at a time when the Olympic Games will be played roughly 60 miles away from your base:
Answer: The excitement is unbelievable and a great opportunity. To be able to witness firsthand the build up to the games, the torch run, the anticipation of all the athletes’ arrival, the opening ceremonies, and for just a small amount of time each participating country having the exact same goal, to bring home the Gold for their country!
Question: Describe how you believe airmen can recognize and celebrate each other’s cultures and how you feel the London Olympics is a great forum for that celebration:
Answer: It’s a celebration. Starting with the diversity of the opening ceremonies, where the audiences from around the world get a look into the culture of the host. No matter what country you are from, for those few weeks we all have the same goal, to cheer our athletes on and bring home the gold.
Question: Thinking back to your childhood, was there an iconic sports figure you or your family treasured?
Answer: There wasn’t one athlete my family treasured, but I was more taught to look at each athlete and their differences that made them unique. That no one was better than all of them together, but may make a bigger impact or change an outcome because of the way they were able to stay calm under pressure or lead teammates through. Just like in the Air Force, we are a team, wearing the same uniform working towards the same goals. And from the youngest Airman to the most knowledgeable chief master sergeant, we all have a job to do and our diversity is one of the reasons we are so successful. Because just like an athlete on a team, we all have something unique to bring to the fight and together we always bring home the gold!