1929 Cleveland Air Races posterIt is Labor Day weekend now, and the quietest one in nearly fifty years. No low flying tandem jet planes at full roar flying over the neighborhoods spread along the lake from downtown Cleveland. Now, it will take a thunder storm to spook a dog.
The National Air Races were held from 1920 to 1939 and from 1946 to 1949. The first eleven years it was held in eleven cities. After 1930, it was held twice in Los Angeles, and the rest of the years in Cleveland's Municipal Aeroport (then the largest aeroport in the world, now renamed Hopkins). These interwar events were covered by national papers and newsreels. Civilian aviator barnstorming heroes such as Wiley Post, Amelia Earhart, Jimmy Doolittle, and Lindbergh performed. Roscoe Turner won the Pulitzer Trophy three times. These shows varied in length of days, but during that time Cleveland was the center of the aviation world.
The after war years saw surplus warcraft jalopied up to compete, and much military participation. In 1949 Bill Odom's plane hit a Berea house killing two residents, as in car races it was not uncommon for the racer to die, but that was the first time someone else did. That and a decrease in military spending for such activities ended the races.
The new air shows began in 1964 at Burke aeroport, and have been heavily militarised since 1965. One positive outcome, from the Republican congressmen's hissy fits and pissing match over the budget, is the military does not have the money to throw at this. Without military participation there is little to show, and private business cannot and will not pony up for a show, therefore the show was quickly cancelled. The military, the War Department renamed the Defense Dept. in 1949, uses such events as recruiting opportunities; and the cause and glory of war making ability is the highlight. In the last couple of generations patriotism has been defined (in the US) as militarism.
In 2006 five people, Catholic Workers, were arrested for protesting inside aeroport grounds.They had a banner, "War is not an entertainment These planes kill". One was a Jesuit priest. I became acquainted, in various degrees, with three of these protestors some time later. I can easily say, they have deep sincerity, and they engaged in peaceful but committed opposition.
Concurrently, for a number of years beginning in 2001, a Peace Show was held at nearby Willard Park, by the Free Stamp sculpture, next to City Hall. The War Show attracts thirty to forty times the audience. Well, the resident pipsqueak fascist on the Cleveland Plain Dealer's editorial board, Kevin O'Brien, wrote a snotty mouth-foaming gwbjr propaganda piece sounding as if it was read on Republican radio or Faux about both the peace show, and the five.
Once, after 2006, i spent one day outside the airshow with two of those arrested in 2006. It was not a fun day. Some people were furious, a lot of single fingers. Some people wanted to politely debate. The most curious, was at least one individual who wanted to be thanked. He believed that the military, or service therein, creates the right to free speech.* Yes, that is the propaganda of the military industrial complex (and the political military industrial complex) that Eisenhower warned the country about in his last hours of the presidency, and that of the Republican party in particular with Nixon and all those after him.
Friday, i received in the post, a copy of an illustrated thirty-two page booklet of letters sent to the Plain Dealer upset with said fascist, and defending the five. A new friend was one of the compilers of the booklet. At the time, i knew none of the letter writers. To-day, almost half of them i have met. The metropolitan area of Cleveland is greater than two million.
Roscoe Turner's racing aeroplane in Western Reserve Historical Museum. Cleveland, O.
* No, thoughts are free. God has given man the ability to think, and speak. Man has free will. Whether society, or the powers that be allow one to speak without incident is another matter. In many countries, this one included, if one speaks in favor of military power, the authorities do not object; if one speaks against, well the police do have implements of suppression. No, the military does not grant rights. Constitutionally we have a Bill of Rights, and organisations and individuals such as the A.C.L.U. and Martin King Jr. have promoted, and allowed us to exercise free speech.