Saturday, May 17, 2008

Armed Forces Day

Today is Armed Forces Day.

Curiously, Armed Forces Day seems over the years to have diminished in importance. There may be several reasons for that. It's on a Saturday, not a Monday, so people aren't as aware of it as they used to be. Then as security has gotten tighter, many military installations which formerly opened their doors to the public on Armed Forces Day either no longer do so, or do so with conditions and restrictions. Another factor is that with the increased use of the National Guard and the Reserves, communities are more engaged with the military than they were in the 1960's. And on the other hand, increased Reserve and Guard deployments mean that personnel who were once available for the displays and events of the day are no longer available.

As a kid, I lived at a semi-secret atomic weapons base on the southeast edge of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Nearby was Kirtland Air Force Base, which hosted the region's Armed Forces Day celebrations. The gates of Kirtland were opened to the community and numerous static displays of aircraft were available to inspect. There usually was an air show, featuring the U.S. Air Force Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds. In those days, the Thunderbirds flew the F-100D SuperSabre, which I thought was the coolest airplane I'd ever seen.

The air shows and static displays had their intended effect on me: I was motivated to join the Air Force and I did.

If you missed Armed Forces Day this year, check it out next year. Go and mingle with military folks and find out what they're all about, especially if there are none in your neighborhood.

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