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Doug Routt: Air shows offer shot of patriotism

Is there anything more stirring and capable of filling you with pride and patriotism then to have just finished singing the national anthem and have four jets in diamond formation appear over the stadium at low altitude with a thunderous roar?

Or how many of us have thrilled to the acrobatics of the Air Force Thunderbirds or Navy Blue Angels as they wheeled and soared above our heads at the annual Niagara Air Reserve Base air show.

When the Army Golden Knights parachute from on high trailing smoke we are inspired by these service members’ physical abilities and professional excellence. Look in the crowd and observe the old veterans looking skyward with a swelled chest reliving their moments and still immensely proud of their country and their service. Check out the youngsters with their rapt attention, enthusiasm and wide-eyed amazement. Even the usually bored and uninterested teenagers forget their cell phones for a minute.

The precision and the artistry come off flawlessly and everyone in the crowd goes home with a sense of inspiration and the belief that truly they live in the greatest nation on earth. The shows not only give the public a chance to see their military in action, they serve as tremendous recruiting tools for our all-volunteer military. Many times during their performances the show will be interrupted by a line of young men and women striding out on the tarmac to raise their right hands and pledge to protect their country and its Constitution.

You cannot help but be inspired by these young kids willing to take on such a tremendous challenge.

To many the military is an organization that thrives on violence, machismo and mayhem. Yet here are these young men and women looking so fit and proud, and the general public gets to see where so much of its money is going. It truly inspires pride in our military as well as our country.

Unfortunately, that won’t be happening this year. The Thunderbirds have been cancelled, as have the Blue Angels and the Army’s Golden Knights parachute team. In addition, the Air Force has opted to let one-third of its squadrons go non-combat-ready in a well-publicized effort to show how the draconian sequester cuts are affecting our nation’s readiness.

This not very subtle attempt to influence Congress and the president that the cuts will pare to the bone our nation’s ability to wage war is not only transparently obvious but an insult to the intelligence of anyone who has ever served in the military and observed the bloated waste first hand.

As a 30-year military veteran I am well aware that there are numerous different operations that have entirely separate accounts of money for various aspects that could be tapped for increased reductions. But this wouldn’t have the same impact.

Some think that the show teams are a complete waste of money as they require funds that could be better spent on combat readiness, but I disagree. This great nation needs a shot of patriotism now and then that doesn’t come from a disaster. It needs to see its great military might and observe first hand those people that provide us our freedom.