Daily Bread: Death of the Fly-by

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From toddlers to seniors, most Americans love a good fly-by. When you’re at a sporting (or other public event), and you can hear, feel and see a military fighter jet careening through the sky, you may be feeling of excitement, nostalgia, and national pride. In August of 2009, my wife and I had just returned from our honeymoon and watched a soldier from the Air Force parachute out of a passing jet and land in U.S. Cellular Field while holding an American flag to honor the veterans who had given their lives for our great country. I don’t remember the score of the game, but I will never forget the feeling of national and personal pride that I felt as an American and new husband on that day.

A couple of weeks ago, I was on my morning commute and listening to news-radio about more government budget cuts, taxes and closings when something unique caught my attention. In between the school closings, tax breaks ending, and stock markets fluctuating, the radio host mentioned that the Federal Government would be cutting the funding for fly-bys from National Armed Forces. This is something that took me by surprise, and I was shocked at how much it upset me.

“Flyovers are typically used as training exercises for ROTC programs and are also designed to bring greater awareness to the United States military. However, due to significant federal budget issues, a cut had to be made. As of March 10, 2013, there will be no more flyovers at sporting events for the foreseeable future,” Tyler Moorehead wrote on collegespun.com.

When I began to analyze exactly why I was so affected by this news, I realized the death of the fly-by meant more than not seeing the Blue Angel’s cruise a Bears game. Rather, it was the end of an era. Viewing the brass tacks, one can understand how tight money is in our current national economy and that some things are not important when if examining their measurable value.

“For reference, the flyover at the 2008 Super Bowl (showcasing six fighter jets) cost approximately $36,000,” Moorhead wrote.

However, all that I can think of is that this is a huge reminder of how largely how country has changed from the times I remember growing up through the 1980s and 1990s.

When looking back, I remember seeing fly-bys at Navy Pier, graduations, speeches, on the Fourth of July and at countless sporting events. This stood for something to me. Watching a fighter jet burn by a crowd, shining through the air, was America. Our pride and success was being showcased, and we were able to enjoy the honor of being a citizen of our nation with thousands of others by our sides saluting something that puts goose bumps on our arms and tears in our eyes. To me, this is a symbol of freedom and now this symbol has been stricken from our county’s resume. Remember these exhilarating times while you can because the chances are that your children will not.

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Daily Bread is a column that blends current events with social and political commentary. Sam Rosenberg has a master’s degree in education and a bachelor’s degree in English. He currently works as a middle school language arts teacher and adjunct professor at a local four-year university.