We're back! As always, it's great to be home. Sheeba held down the fort, and nothing seems to be destroyed. What a good kitty!
As I mentioned, we had a great visit with our friends Doug and Karen. We got caught up on plenty of things, and tried to solve a few world problems (we'll have to keep working on that!). We also talked about getting together with another couple from the cruise, Danny and Debbie, who also live in the vicinity. We could maybe meet in Indianapolis and have a fun weekend. If you're reading this, Debbie, something to keep in mind!
We had a great time with the kids, and spent the afternoon at the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. It was actually very cool, and 3 huge hangars house the exhibits. There are planes galore (obviously), displayed on the ground and hanging from the ceiling. I think one of the coolest was the B2 Bomber (AKA the Stealth Bomber). What an incredible piece of machinery, and SO cool-looking. I was also surprised to see a section devoted to the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps--quite a few Allied soldiers were sent to them when they were captured. It was very well done, and very upsetting (as it should be, in my opinion). Since it was a small section, it doesn't have the impact that The Holocaust Museum does, where you're completely immersed in it for the entire day, but it was still a good exhibit. My stepdaughter said that was her favorite, because she's studied about that in school.
My stepson is learning about The Cold War in class right now, so he was really interested in that exhibit. Me? Not so much. The history of The Cold War, the Berlin Wall, etc., was interesting to read about, but they had several warheads on display--actual ICBM's and IRBM's. For Ken and I, who remember The Cold War and the threat of being nuked out of existence, it's pretty chilling to see a physical manifestation of complete and utter destruction. I think I actually gave a shudder when looking at them. Reading about the fall of the Berlin Wall is much more uplifting, and I remember watching that on the news and crying to see all those people so overjoyed to destroy, with their own hands, a symbol of their oppression. Great stuff. "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall!"
I really liked the WWII section, probably because that's the war that I know more about, and because of my Dad. They had a small section that told about celebrities in WWII, including Ronald Reagan, Clark Gable, Glenn Miller, and my person favorite, Jimmy Stewart. Did you know that Jimmy Stewart won a Distinguished Flying Cross, as well as a Croix de Guerre from France? These guys didn't wait for the draft, they signed up--and Clark Gable was past combat age, but he signed up anyway. I told Ken, "Hmm. You don't see a whole lot of celebrities signing up these days, do you?" A different age, and a different outlook.
They have an Imax theater there--aren't those a blast?--and we watched a movie about fighter pilots and a training exercise they go through at Nellis AFB in Nevada called Red Flag. They said that if a pilot survives his first 10 combat missions, his chances of survival improve significantly, so for Red Flag, they bring in pilots from all over the country, as well as from some of our allies. They spend 2 weeks going through scenarios and situations designed to give them a feel for real combat. These guys are just amazing. Or as I told Ken, nuts! I knew a couple of pilots many years ago, and they're cocky as hell, but also BRAVE as hell, and it made me quite verklempt to see what kind of training these guys go through, and what kind of danger they put themselves in. It was a very cool movie, and as it showed some of these guys getting their pictures taken by their planes--just like when you see pictures of WWII pilots and crews--I couldn't help but hope that we get out soon and stop losing so many of our best, brightest, and bravest, no matter what branch of our military. I know it's a volunteer force, and I know that the vast majority of them are proud to serve and even give their lives if need be...but God, it just breaks my heart to lose them.
So I enjoyed my visit to the U.S. Air Force Museum, and recommend it to anyone interested in such things. It's also a fine reminder of just how grateful we should be to our military forces, both in the past and in the present. Here's to 'em!