I just took a glance at HometownAnnapolis.com, and I was stunned by the headline that the Blue Angels will not be performing during Commissioning Week in 2012. WHAT!!!?? A heads up about this possibility was reported in Eye on Annapolis back in December, but I am just tuning into the fiasco. I guess this came about as fallout from a decision made last year by now-departed Naval Academy Superintendent Fowler to move the academy graduation back a week (this from the same guy who also last year banned the use of grease when the plebes compete to scale the Herndon Monument - what has taken as long as four hours of teamwork and persistence in the past took just over 2 minutes without grease - nice to see our warriors challenged, but I digress). The HometownAnnapolis article contained a lot of politician and administrator-speak about traffic and schedules, blah blah blah. I read it all with my mouth agape.
Blue Angels to miss Commissioning Week in 2012
Late May in Annapolis with no Blue Angels? Are you kidding? What next? Are they going to lop the acorn off the Statehouse? Sure it houses the original lightning rod built to Ben Franklin's specifications over 200 years ago to protect one of our young country's proud symbols of freedom and independence, but, you know, it can also be glaringly bright and potentially blinding on a sunny day and might serve better as an artificial oyster reef on the bottom of the Bay. Pave over Ego Alley? We could sure use the extra parking downtown for all that Market House business and traffic, and it's such a hassle to walk all the way around it. Abandon and gut the Market House, the heart of our city's shared history and traditions, and leave it for dead? Oh, right...
I have to confess, my first reaction to the story was disappointment for myself and my family and friends. We love going to see the Blue Angels every year and invite friends to enjoy the show with us. It's wrapped up in the excitement of the school year coming to a close and summer just around the corner. We've watched them fly from the Naval Academy grounds, from the WWII Memorial on Rt. 2, from the water on our boat, from my kids' preschool graduation ceremony at Anchors-A-Wee (the kids went crazy thinking the jets flying over in Delta formation were for them), from my house, from work, and serendipitously (and a bit precariously) while driving over the Severn River bridge on Rt. 50. Wherever you are in Annapolis during Commissioning Week, you feel the power and the pride of the Navy and the tribute they pay to their newest and richly deserving new officers and the city that embraces them.
And this brings me to my second and more important reaction that followed instantaneously on the heels of the first more selfish one. I really feel awful for the Naval Academy class of 2012 that is going to miss out on this highlight of their graduation week. They'll still get the flyby at graduation (I think), but they get that at most home football games in the fall. It just seems so unfitting that they and their families should be denied the power and impact of the full performance, especially if "traffic" is the underlying issue, as suggested in the article. I feel like somebody did not put up enough of a fuss or fight for our boys and girls in white. If traffic is really the concern, all the beachgoers can cool their jets on Rt. 50 and enjoy the show while the Midshipmen, at the most important milepost of their lives to date, watch their mentors light up some F/A-18 afterburners.
My bigger concern with the article is that it suggested that this could possibly be a permanent change. One year without the Blue Angels would be a shame for the Naval Academy graduating class of 2012 and their families, but putting a final end to a tradition so integral to this right of passage for our Midshipmen would be heartbreaking. Yes, those of us who live in Annapolis selfishly love seeing the Blue Angels fly each year, but more than that, we love being part of the celebration and sendoff for the Middies - having the opportunity to show our appreciation and affection for the shiny new officers who will go on to become military, government, private sector, and community leaders of our nation.
Ah well. Maybe someone can setup a monster screen during Commissioning Week on the shore of the Severn and play Top Gun for the Middies' viewing pleasure. Or maybe Dan Snyder can get Tom Cruise to put in a personal appearance ("I'm not a real Navy pilot, but I've played one in a movie..."). Danger zone, baby. Officer and a Gentleman, anyone? The uniform is right, and the Moms would enjoy it. No jets, though. Just a motorcycle and a great walk. Or perhaps they could get a Duck Boat from Baltimore to make a pass on the river. "I've got a need... a need for speed!" Quack...
Sorry, I'm punchy with disappointment and dating myself with my 80s references. Please, if anybody is listening, please fix this!!!