The Art of the Unexpected: At the Airshow

My husband is one of those guys who can sit and watch some snoozefest on the History Channel for hours (and hours and hours). Don't get me wrong, I am an art historian by profession and love learning about bygone days; however, dear hubby's fascination with the past is even more fanatical than my own.  

In particular, he cannot seem to get enough of the stories of World War Two, an era that captivates even the history novice with its unbelievable and remarkable tales.  James Bradley books and HBO's Band of Brothers are my husband's preferred recreational pastimes.  So recently, when he read that a World War Two airshow was headed to our local airport, he made a mandatory appointment on our weekend agenda.  Load the baby in the stroller, we are heading to the runway!  
As he stood and analyzed the guns and the cockpits and the cargo bays of the aircraft, I stood and analyzed him.  When someone else is in their element, is consumed with curiosity, it is a pleasure to join in their revelry.  I couldn't help but gaze with admiration alongside him.  All too often he is frustrated by the banality of the 9-5 routine, and on this special day, I witnessed my husband in a moment of childlike wonder.  
While I do not share his interest in the engineering or mechanics of the airplanes, I was reminded of the lost glory days of aviation.  The days when Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes were aloft and inspiring America to make the impossible possible.  I was amazed by the craftsmanship of these giant metal birds. The planes seemed so solid and indestructible which made the poignancy of the War and its losses even more stunning to contemplate. 
Dispersed around the airshow were World War Two veterans.  These small now frail men sat, wearing their Veterans ball caps proudly, hoping some young person would come ask about their own stories.  After reading Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand's story of Louis Zamperini, I couldn't help but try and imagine these nonagenarians in their heyday.  
Try as I might, I left the airshow feeling a little sad and a lot nostalgic about an era I never even experienced and a group of American heroes I never really knew.  My own grandfather and a few great uncles were in the War, but in my youthful egocentrism I never thought to ask their stories before they were gone forever.  
I'm not sure what the moral of this story is.  Be open to new experiences, you never know where they might lead you.  Get to know your elders, they have tales they want to tell you.  Listen more. Talk less.  Let life take you along for the ride. 

Airshow images by me.  Other photos from LA Observed and Awesome Stores.

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