Today is graduation day for the 61st class of the Air Force Academy (AFA) in Colorado Springs, Colorado. AFA commencement speakers rotate yearly between the President of the United States, Vice President, Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Air Force. This year, President Donald Trump addresses the AFA graduates, when 1,000 young men and women will receive their diplomas and commission as second lieutenants.

Every year the Air Force Thunderbirds fly a demonstration following the ceremony. Here at Focus on the Family, we have a privileged vantage point as we look across the interstate at the planes roaring in over Falcon Stadium. Our legal analyst, Bruce Hausknecht, is an accomplished photographer who took the photo we’ve included with this post. You can see a couple more images at our Daily Citizen Facebook page.

As we look across at the Academy, we also have an amazing view of Pike’s Peak, “America’s Mountain,” towering over the foothills. It’s especially magnificent-looking today with a new dusting of snow on top. Katherine Lee Bates was inspired to write “America the Beautiful” after a trip to the top of Pike’s Peak.

Every day, driving into the office, I see that stunning view. In addition, on many days the Air Force cadets are taking up gliders – the Academy’s program is the largest glider operation in the world – with upperclassmen training younger cadets. While the gliders are soaring over the Academy, often other cadets are being instructed in the freefall parachute program, earning their basic parachute wings. On my way into our building I often see them drifting down to their landing point.

The Academy graduation – with these young men and women who pledge to serve and defend us, the beauty of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, the President’s visit to our city – all these bring to mind how blessed we are as Americans. We encourage you to take a moment to give thanks today for all our blessings – not least of which are our many freedoms. We have a unique place in the history of the world; most men and women throughout history never enjoyed such privileges.

Give thanks, too for the blessings Americans have in being protected by the greatest fighting force on earth and for the Founders’ wisdom in having a civilian commander in chief of the armed forces.

At The Daily Citizen, we often write about difficult, contentious issues in our culture, including threats to life, marriages, families and freedom. Thankfully we also get to write about victories and hopeful stories. Knowing that we face such challenges, we also encourage you to pray for our country, our armed forces, the President and all our leaders. The Apostle Paul urges all Christ followers to pray for “all who are in high positions.” Writing to his disciple Timothy, and through him to the entire church, Paul says:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (I Timothy 2:1-4, ESV)