The past few weeks have been a blur of long, long work days. As my boss said, “Things actually aren’t that busy right now, it just seems like everything in your portfolio is blowing up at the same time.” Fortunately, with this part of the world people are so accustomed to dealing with crises that no one gets too worked up about things that would be a four-alarm fire elsewhere in the building. The last year has been a great experience professionally, and I’ve grown a lot as an officer, but I am definitely ready to move on to the next thing in a few months…
I had the first chance to escape my windowless office in weeks (and today’s post is the product of an additional breather, enabled by an epic metro meltdown, which has resulted in a suspension of service into DC, blocks-long bus lines, and a run on cabs and Uber.) There are relatively few perks of working in Foggy Bottom, but proximity to the Mall is definitely one of them– Think mid-week picnic lunch under the Cherry Blossoms. But last Friday was a particularly special treat, and one I won’t soon forget.
In honor of the 70th anniversary of V-E Day, a private group organized a large flyover of WWII-era airplanes– everything from small planes used to train pilots to the last flying B-29 bomber. The group flew along the Potomac, over the Memorial Bridge and turned away from the Mall just past the Washington Monument. I’ve never seen anything like it and I don’t think there will be many opportunities to see such an event again– supposedly it took more than a year of planning to get all of the permissions needed to fly that route.
I’ve been to Udvar-Hazy and seen many of these planes in person, but there was something extra special about seeing them in the air. You got a better sense for their size, speed, and function– and you could hear them! My favorites were the F4U Corsair and the B-29, which was big and lumbering. It’s hard to imagine 200+ B-29s conducting a raid over Japan at the same time; also unfathomable to me is that we even had the industrial wherewithal to build so many planes. I also had finally gotten around to reading Unbroken over Christmas and watched with a newfound appreciation of how perilous flying these planes during wartime really was.
The event was made more special in that so many thousands came to the Mall to see it– people from all walks of life lined Memorial Bridge and filled the lawn around the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, and took a moment to remember what a great and tragic achievement ending World War II was. There will soon be a day where there is no living person who can remind us what surviving it– on the front lines or the home front, was like.