About a week ago, the U.S. Navy Thunderbirds and the U.S. Air Force Blue Angels flew over the Washington DC area in a salute to all Americans on the frontline of our war against the COVID-19 virus. My wife and I traveled to a high point of ground, selected a spot that was more than 6 feet from anybody else and settled in for the flyover. It was a great sunny April day here in DC.
We noticed people of all ages trickling onto this patch of ground. Soon three Fairfax County Police Officers were joining everybody too. We could hear the chatter amongst the spectators; all were just concentrating on showing their support to the T-Birds and Blues as a way of supporting all Americans fighting for our health and our nation.
I heard one father talking to his son and daughter about airplanes and how what they would soon see would be thrilling and to remember it forever. Heads were on a swivel trying to be the first to spot the T-Birds and the Blue Angels. Although the flyover was last minute and without much word on the news, more and more people set up cameras to capture the moment. I spotted numerous hats on men and women highlighting their branch of service, or which war they were a Veteran of. Soon, over 100 people were scattered in the grass.
Suddenly, on the horizon I spotted several flyspecks. Just as I thrust my arm out to point out the fighter aircraft, the Blue Angels popped smoke and a white trail streamed behind them. They got closer and closer, flying low and slow. Both the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds were nose on, but you could count 13 aircraft. A distinctive roar came from the northeast sky; the unmistakable whine of a military jet engine. And the crowd started clapping—none of them spoke of why, but deep in our hearts, we knew why.
Veterans saluted. Ball caps were doffed and placed over the heart. As expected, the formation turned hard left just before reaching us. We had a great side-on view of the Blue Angels in a wedge formation, with the Thunderbirds echeloned high and right. Above them all, flew Angel 7—a single F-16 in a solitary salute and photographing the event for America. The entire formation slowly flew to the southwest. Heads followed their entire flight as they disappeared over the horizon.
In that moment, Americans came together once again. As we have before, as we will again. By turning out to see the flyover, we all wanted to show support for those on the frontline of the COVID-19 fight. As we chatted about in our last blog post, this is a long slog with respect to COVID-19. A different kind of war. We are all tired of being under lockdown. And the restrictions on our local businesses. But we are all in this together and must continue to social distance, wash our hands, and take other precautions as recommended by local, state, federal, and international leaders. But just as our predecessors made sacrifices, so must we.
The Americans in Wartime Museum continues to plan for our Open House at the end of August. We also are working with the Voices of Freedom to record and preserve the stories of Americans in War. All Americans. Facing all threats. Anywhere on the Globe. We are being safe in our tank restoration and museum planning—we ask that you do the same because we want to see you all at the next Open House and when the Museum opens!