I was raised in the era of the Vietnam conflict. Love it (the USA) or leave it vs. lots of protests against an unjust war far away from our shores. As a society, we weren’t particularly kind to or respectful of the returning soldiers, the community of combat veterans that risked their lives to protect our freedoms. The peace movement hoped for the day when the schools were well funded and the military had to hold a bake sale.
Fast forward to September’s Great State of Maine Airshow, a now private enterprise working with members of the military, the community and local organizations. The more than 70,000 attendees spoke with their money and attention on the air show. It was a mixture of entertainment and precision flying by current and former members of the military.
For some it was a day at the beach, complete with sunscreen, food, blankets and lawn chairs. For others, it was a day of camaraderie and remembrance. Beyond the nostalgia of older planes flying was the raw power of the Army’s Raptor and the Navy’s Blue Angels demonstration team.
Precision work, flawless outcomes require all hands on deck at the top of their skillset – every time.
For the Southern Midcoast community, and a former military base, it does take all the parts working together to make our community and society a place worth living in and paying honor to those who protect our great nation. Volunteers were everywhere. Booths selling programs, food and souvenirs were manned by the many different community groups with each getting both visibility and a percentage back on sales for their efforts. In some ways, this is the modern incarnation of that bake sale. Every group is vying for attention and revenue and new people to help.
Recruitment was an obvious activity for the all volunteer military as well as for the Maine State Police. I asked one of the active service members about the presence of protesters outside the gates and got a response worthy of this great country of ours.
“We are here to protect and serve all citizens and it is our service and sacrifice that allows them the ability to share their opinion and feelings without fear of punishment or death.”
Yes, “punishment or death” for sharing a differing opinion or being of the wrong gender or religion. There are many countries and societies, we civilians mostly just read about, where the intolerance of differences subjects one to brutal treatment and death at the hands of the leadership be it military, civilian or radical. But NOT here. Not in the United States of America. To our men and women in uniform, we thank you for your service and the freedoms we receive because of it.
Patriot Riders of America – supporting yesterdays and today’s military and first responders because freedom isn’t free. Among their volunteer efforts- remodeling a veterans home to accommodate aging and disabilities.
Thank you for your service.