Thursday, August 28, 2008

An airshow is a common North American event. Though-out this province they are held all summer in various locations, frequently small local airports that are struggling to stay afloat with parcel and buisness flights yet not used by compalnies for airtravel needs.

The locals are always excited as all week long the planes practice their lop-d-lops, suicide dives, races and such. All over town the evergreen of front lawns become patchwork quilts of red, blue, brown and all sorta of coloured t-shirts as the houses empty of kids to watch the amazing feats in the sky overhead.

On the day of the airshow the whole town seems to stop for a few hours and everywhere the roads are chuck full of cars illegally parked on the curb, trying to find that "perfect" viewing spot. Neighbours turn on the BBQs and host family picnics, friends from out of town arrive for the afternoon and dinner. the children run in circles straining to catch that first glimpse of the fighters, great fun for all...

But I am petrified.

Most people run out of their houses at the sound of the planes overhead, but as the sonic boom shakes me deep down to my core, it just makes me want to run. When the glass in the windows shake, I quiver. For the sake of the children I must put on a brave face and not run down and hide in the cold storage.

The majority of the population over here has never experienced war first or even second hand. They talk about it "happening over there" freely, never thinking that it could come across the Atlantic, as if there is an invisible wall over the ocean.

Years ago my family lived in Austria, which was the main NATO base during the Bosnian war. Air Raid sirens were a reality, counting the supply helicopters fly over our house (nearly always losing count after we reaced 100) was a reality, feeling the ground shake and learning to cruch up into a little ball "just in case" when the fighters passed over head to their targets was a reality. Listening to the public announcements and freaking out cause we could only speak english and no one would translate and explain the looks of terror on their faces, was a reality.

Having our school, A.I.S., bombed because it was American (and the US had just entered the war), arriving at school and not being able to get to my locker because of the fire, having 6 different types of gaurds and soliders then stationed at the school, seeing army transport trucks, troop carriers, guns in the open, all this was too a reality.

So forgive me if I do not enjoy the airshow, and please ignore the tears that stream down my face at the memories so vivid and fresh that the sounds of the aircraft remind me of.

I pray my children can still enjoy it, and will never have the associations with the jets that I have.

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