My mother; my hero

By 1st Lt Tori Hight
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

When people ask about your hero, your response is likely to be someone well-known and famous; someone who impacted history or led an important movement; or someone whose words you live by and use as motivation to continue on.

My hero is not as well-known and famous. My hero is my mom.

Born in a small town in Poland in the 1960s, my mom and her family lived in a small cabin with a wood stove. They used it to cook and provide heat in the winter. No stranger to hard work, she’s told me stories of tending the gardens, milking and caring for the cattle and seeing to the chickens they kept for food.

When she turned 12, my mom left everything she knew behind to come to America. She lived with a distant relative of her family, a wonderful woman we always referred to as our aunt. She learned how to speak and write in English, how to sew and make her own clothes, and eventually, how to drive.

Although she was teased in school for her accent, she persevered and graduated with her peers. After graduation, she became an official citizen of the United States, a process she started five years earlier.

A year later, in the midst of the Iranian hostage crisis, she decided to join the U.S. Air Force and enlisted into the air traffic control career field. Her service stemmed from a desire to give back to the country that became her second home.

The author's mom, pictured as a Tech. Sgt. in the Air Force.

My mom served the Air Force for 21 years and retired as a master sergeant. She now works as a Department of the Air Force civilian and has been for nearly 12 ½ years. Through it all, she raised my brother and me while we moved every two years with the military. We learned about different cultures, how to work hard and contribute around the home and community, and eventually, how to give back to the country. My brother and I both joined the Air Force and have a combined 13 years of service.

An Airman reenlists her brother in the Air Force.
PHOTO: Then 2nd Lt. Victoria Lalich reenlists her brother, Staff Sgt. Christopher Lalich, at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., in 2011.

I think my mom is a remarkable woman. Her devotion and dedication to this country and her job is inspiring to me and always has been. It’s what made me want to join the Air Force, and why I am so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in this country and in the military. I love you, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.

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My mother; my hero