Memorial Day is more than a holiday celebrating summer’s onset. It is a holy day to remember and thank those who offered their lives so the rest of us may remain living in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
A recounting of last year’s celebration at New Jersey’s Millville Airport may inspire us to celebrate the true American spirit that we shall shortly commemorate again:
Silence. Engines ready. Pilots ready. But first, the traditional formality of four military personnel presenting the flags of the United States and New Jersey. Next, a young woman sang “The National Anthem” sincerely, articulating the lyrics and following the melody as originally written, a welcome relief from the screaming rock-gospel we usually hear.
The enormous crowd — 1,000 plus — of people of various national origins was refreshing, too, virtually all dressed in casual but neat attire. Children hopped here and there, excited but well behaved, and parents monitored attentively.
Used food containers and empty soda cans were dropped respectfully into bins. The overall mood was neighborly camaraderie spiked with anticipation for the stars of the show soon to soar: the airplanes.
Creations of human ingenuity frozen into the beauty of form following function; gravity-defying phenomena piloted by men and women whose minds and bodies work in perfect concert with their machines; practiced precision as pilots point, pivot, and plunge their aircraft in pre-determined patterns, all roaring with the magnificent sounds of mind and matter united successfully in precise and powerful harmony.
Contrasting with the boisterous machine-music in the sky, a quiet sense of spiritual grace at witnessing such wonders of human imagination and ability permeated the atmosphere everywhere on the ground.
From the reproduction of a 1911 tricycle-type contraption flying whimsically all by itself to the mach-two speed and acrobatics of an F16 fighter jet dancing an intricate pas de deux with a 50-year-old B1 bomber. From a gigantic, lumbering new cargo aircraft to the colorful bi-planes flitting like playful birds upside down and all around each other, carefree but not careless.
From the World War II Air Force fighters winging in tightly synchronized formations only a heart-stopping foot apart from each other to the Army’s Golden Knights parachute jumpers free-falling at 120 mph from 12,000 feet and opening their chutes at a mere 5,000 feet to land perfectly on a 3-foot-square landing pad.
Then, to the soft weeping of many, four planes scaling the heights together with one departing from the group to fly upward and alone (as if to heaven) in memory of the recent death of a fellow pilot, the other three dipping their wings in honorific farewell to the loss of a comrade and flying into the distant blue and out of sight.
But there was humor as well: two brothers — one flying a single engine plane back and forth above the tarmac and the other riding his motorcycle on the runway itself — raced back and forth in hilarious fury; the motorcycle won.
The finale? An exhilarating fly-by sky parade of the day’s different and incredible planes and pilots all in the air at the same time, a colorful celebration and a solemn salute.
This is America. We must not believe that ours is a country of the past as some would suggest, the same “some” who would weaken us by offering false promises of security while stealing our freedoms. We must not turn our children over to public school teachers who no longer wish to teach students who no longer want to learn, and who are being inculcated into group-think and politically correct collectivism.
We must not become a land of the dependent as so many once-developed countries have become. We must not succumb to politically contrived differences pitting us against one another.
Let us, instead, stand united in our common values of individualism and independence. Let us continue to shine as the bright beacon of freedom to light the way for others to follow.
This is the America as we are and ought to be: Unprecedented. Exceptional. Unapologetic. Unconquered from without and en garde against those who would diminish us from within.
Like our military whom we venerate and those courageous pilots who defy gravity to protect us from outside enemies, let us We the People defy tyranny from within, our inner strength being the principles that brought us into being: liberty, individual rights, reason, productivity, responsibility, and self-reliance — the principles embedded in our founding documents of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
Let us be reminded of the meaning behind our national holidays lest we take for granted our unique place in the entire history of humankind and neglect to celebrate our well-earned glory as free citizens of the United States of America. On this coming Memorial Day, let us not forget to remember.
Alexandra York is an author and founding president of the American Renaissance for the Twenty-first Century (ART) a New-York-City-based nonprofit educational arts and culture foundation. She has written for many publications, including "Reader’s Digest" and The New York Times. Her latest book is "The Innocent." For more on Alexandra York, Go Here Now.
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