Friday, April 27, 2012

Our Military Might

The Fort Lauderdale Air Show is here this weekend and I live right on the beach so I get to see it all for free. In fact, I'm enjoying (not exactly) the practice run right now. It used to be the Air and Sea show and it was way bigger and, well, better and showcased far more aircraft than the current, reincarnated show. I'm a little disappointed because I used to like to see the Stealth Bombers and they aren't here this year, though a B 1 just flew over my house.

Yesterday we were out in the yard, my sister and me, with the babies playing in the kiddie pool and having a grand old time picking marigolds and getting into the tomatoes when all of a sudden the Airforce Thunderbirds flew over our house faster than the speed of sound, at low altitude and scared the absolute living shit out of all of us. The babies went completely hysterical and my sister and I were so startled and so upset that both of us wanted to burst into tears but didn't because we were each scared the other would make fun of us. I kid you not when I tell you it made me nauseated. We took the babies in and tried to tell them it was airplanes and they were just playing and some airplanes are loud, but nope. They were petrified. Baby Lawns was freaked and wouldn't stop asking if her cousin and aunt, who'd gone in their own house, were ok. I'm pretty sure that my cat is never coming out from under the bed. My mom's dog will probably need Prozac after this and last night Baby Lawns woke up shrieking from what had to be a nightmare and slept awfully all night and I really wonder if it wasn't the jets that caused it.

And the whole thing made me feel very sad and on edge. My mother was upset about it too. It scared her dog. We had a friend who died in an airshow up in Titusville a few years ago, which was awful. We all knew when he bought the Ukrainian fighter jet that it would be the end of him. I've been waiting years to write that line. And it was, of course. Air Shows remind us of that loss. My mother also cites 9/11.

"We're always on edge in the back of our head because we feel like since then, anything can happen to us at anytime."

I think she's right.

But for me, it's more. I hated seeing my baby that terrified of something. I have an enormous empathy for her, but I've also realized that in becoming a mother I've developed a tremendous empathy for every single baby on this planet. All of them. And you know what? Every single person alive was once a baby, so I have a greater empathy for everyone. 

These planes are here for a show. They're just playing right now, but they weren't designed as toys. They were made to kill people and imagine when they aren't flipping around in the sky, but when they are invading, firing, dropping bombs and doing their intended job - killing people. Imagine the fear of the babies beneath them.


Greg Layton said...

I was raised by pacifists, and now am one, myself. That meant, of course, no watching "Star Wars," no playing with "G.I. Joes," etc. I suppose I should explain: My father volunteered for the draft in the 1950s and the invoked "conscientious objector" status, which required him to explain the origin of his religious beliefs to a draft board. Among the questions he was asked was: "Did you play with toy guns or watch war movies when you were a kid?" So, although my father was granted "CO" status, and willingly served his country through stateside service work, his children were raised without toy guns and war movies. I suppose that it was only natural, then, that I developed a fascination with military technology. I knew what "MiG" stood for. I knew who built the engines for the P51 Mustang. I was fascinated by French delta wing fighters. Blah. Blah. Blah. But, now, as I correspond with a former classmate of ours, who is homeless, living out of his car, while still attending college, and all on account of PTSD and other disorders he acquired in the service of our country, I can't help but remember him as just another kid at Benjamin Banneker Elementary. And I loathe the fact that he was forced to do and to experience the things that he was forced to do and experience. And, if I believe President Eisenhower, who must have known, our friend is now fighting to even want to live because of those machines, because no company can continue to profit off of bombs that are in storage, no company can continue to profit off of undamaged planes that are no longer three steps more advanced than those flown by any other nation in the world (In part, because that company sold those three steps more advanced planes to temporary allies around the globe.) A war is just a closeout sale, a way to clear outdated inventory off the shelves, and an airshow (God, forgive me for loving them) is just a fancy commercial, tinged with nostalgia and awe and as little regret as possible.

Head Ant said...

Last week was Navy Week in New Orleans. Saturday and Sunday, they were schedule to have the Blue Angels air show; but it got cancelled because the lake was too choppy for the buoys to stay in place.

After reading this, I think one or both of my kids may have freaked out at the noise. Whew! Close call there.

Anonymous said...

Excellent line ender.


Kira Perez said...

By the way, I finally got my ass around to writing a journal. I'm AFableADay.

-Kir again

Maria de los Angeles said...

Wide Lawns, how are you??? I helped deliver a sailboat during the last air show and we anchored for a while on the ocean while the aircraft did their thing. It was bone-rattling! I can't even imagine what impact this would have on young humans or other sentient beings with fur and four legs. It's cool and all, but you are right ... wonder if City of Fort Lauderdale does anything to prepare its coastal residents for this.

Mick said...

Forced to experience? Was he in the military, because the United States is currently not drafting anyone. Interesting......

Pickyknitter said...

I lived on Nellis AFB from age 3-10 ('78-'85) and it is (was?) the home of the Thunderbirds. All day, every day, we heard the sounds of F14s and A10s passing overhead. I have a secret love for airshows becuase nothing is as amazing as having the roar of the jets go over, when you can't hear, can't think, your entire body is filled with the sound of the racing engines.

Excuse me, I need to go look up "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins on You Tube now.

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