Monday, May 24, 2010

Flying Fortress

This weekend we went to go see the restored B-17 that landed at Hillsboro airport, part of a barnstorming tour across America. For $400 you can take a ride in the Flying Fortress, and for $5 you can climb around in it.

It was oddly affecting. We just wanted to see a cool airplane, but walking through it, you couldn't help but feel the bigger story: a bunch of 18, 19-year-old farm boys, in 1930s-era technology, putting their lives on the line to save the world. True.

This January I put an American flag sticker in the window of my car, something I can't imagine doing at any other time in my life. It just dawned on me that whatever happens that will take this world forward, the ol' USA will have to play a major role, the leadership role, probably. Who else would it be?

We're too fractured to pull it off right now. The story that pulled us together back then doesn't work anymore. What will our new uniting story be? Where will it come from?

It's happening, really, but I get impatient.


Anonymous said...

I think this is beautiful. Thanks for sharing it.

stackingchairs said...

This is great.

Kevin Johnson said...

Picking up on both the B-17 and the Keep Calm sign, our continued fascination with WW2 in the form of books, movies, and mini-series suggest to me more than a passing interest in history. Or perhaps not an interest in history at all. Instead, these recent movies and books tell the stories of how men and women lived in difficult times; how they met challenges (big challenges); how life unfolded; they described what it was like to live in difficult times. These stories help us understand, or cope, or provide, in an odd way, comfort. In a sense its comforting to experience these stories -- because we know how things turned out. But we don’t KNOW how things are going to turn out today.

Perhaps you have seen the “Awareness Test” on YouTube. One version shows two team of basketball players passing the ball. The announcer challenges you as the viewer to count the number of ball passes one team makes. When I showed this to the audience at a conference recently many correctly counted the number of passes. But, they didn’t see the 6’ tall, moon walking bear that walked in and out among the players at the same time. It test begs the question that we see what we want to see and may not know what we don’t see or miss.

So, that's a long way of saying "Keep Calm and Carry On" is on the right track.

PS The B-17 is really cool. I can't believe how big they look in the pictures but how small they are inside.

michael eaton said...

I could not agree more, and just want to say that the flagon the car is a good thing we should be proud of our country, it's not perfect but a good one.

Michael Eaton

Hank Hosfield said...

I think our salvation is in reaching out to each other. Our strong beliefs in independence and freedom have cultivated a culture of individualism at the expense of community. I think the hard times we have now are turning some of us more toward each other, but real change won't happen until we not only embrace the truth that doing for each other is good, but also that ultimately it is even better for ourselves, giving us purpose and meaningful lives.

FYI--I just got back from attending graduation events for my nephew at Princeton. Their grads hear a lot of puffery about how great they are, but if I were addressing them, I'd tell them this:

"While virtually everyone is telling you how extraordinarily special you all are, the world is spoiling to prove how common your struggle truly is. How you cope with the coming leveling may determine your future happiness, yet ultimately your greatest victory is not in how high you can rise above it all, but rather in how much your efforts lift the rest of us."

KPR said...

In memory of August Delbert Reed: One of those 19-year-old, scared-as-shit farm boys from La Grand, Oregon sitting in the ball turret of a B-17 some 70 years ago.

Thanks for sharing.

Couldn't agree more with you Kevin. Well put.