Memorial Day came early this year, and so too the majestically coordinated flyover tributes by the Navy’s fabled Blue Angels and the Air Force’s equally adept Thunderbirds. On this especially emotional Memorial Day, their aerial pageantry elicited more palpable patriotism and admiration than any airshows since the aftermath of “9/11.” The intense finesse of these twelve brave pilots makes each of us watching from below swell with national pride and gratitude.
My Deputy Editor (and oldest daughter!) has coaxed me into including a few photos of yours truly when exactly 35 years ago I flew in the Narrator’s cockpit with the Blue Angels—to witness 7x G-forces aboard an A-4 Skyhawk during their “rehearsal maneuvers” over Long Island’s Roosevelt Field. I was exhilarated and frightened (and mildly nauseated), but what sticks with me to this day is the unaffected camaraderie and commitment of these Top Gun heroes. Their genuine respect for craft and teammates was out shone only by their pride of duty in representing our Stars and Stripes way of life. Where else but in this spacious-skied land of ours could you find such composed allegiance. “Not for self but for country” reads the old Navy motto, and we are blessed for their service.