Given the many worthwhile activities taking place during Seafair, I wonder why it is necessary to use the Blue Angels as part of the celebration, veteran Patrick Pilcher writes in a guest opinion column.
Seafair has always brought a festive mood to the Puget Sound region. No one can deny the excitement of the Navy’s Blue Angels roaring overhead. Yet I find their annual visit in poor taste.
Given the many worthwhile activities taking place during Seafair, I wonder why it is necessary to use the Blue Angels as part of the celebration.
The Blue Angels certainly provide entertainment, but do we really need this type of diversion? While many see it as simply an air show, it is also a display of military muscle-flexing that seems a bit outdated — even considering the recent events in Syria, Iran and other troubled areas.
The real purpose of the Blue Angels is to support the recruitment effort and give citizens a seat-of-the-pants, ear-splitting example of our tax dollars at work. But is the enormous amount of money spent justified?
The main purpose of our military is to defend the country and its principles of freedom. We should not use our armed forces as a traveling road show to entertain the masses or a high-tech recruiting measure. We need a strong military as a peacekeeping force. Military hardware is expensive to produce and maintain. The aircraft used by the Blue Angels are designed for combat — not barnstorming circus props.
Perhaps a better use of the Navy’s resources would be to tap the expertise of its personnel. Navy people have always played an important role in the Puget Sound area. They have donated to local blood banks, helped in community projects and generally worked to provide a positive image.
As long as we continue to maintain a large military force, wouldn’t it make more sense to use Navy folks — when not engaged in training or combat roles — to help the community in which they are stationed.
Why not combine the Navy’s vast technological training programs with the outreach capacity of local state employment offices to devise a cutting-edge program to help those suffering from long-term unemployment or those seeking to retrain after a layoff? The administration of such a program would certainly test the abilities of military and civilian bureaucrats to work together. The benefits, however, would be felt far into the future.
To critics who say the Navy should not use its resources this way, I say it’s no different from using Navy jets to produce an air show. Instead of merely entertaining, why not teach and enrich?
A final objection to the Blue Angels is that of the jets conjuring up horrifying images among many recent immigrants from war-torn countries. When the fighters roar in at low altitude, as they often do at Seafair, it can be a reminder of the terror of death raining from the sky in the form of cluster bombs or other weapons. The images remain fused into the memories of people who suffered so much during war. We should be more sensitive toward the feelings of these people.
The Blue Angels have flown over Seafair for many years. They should be retired with dignity and remembered in our history for the role they played. We do not need the Navy to provide thrills during Seafair. There are many other excellent events that more than make up for the loss of this blatant military ad campaign.