In the morning hours, before the National Air and Space Museum opens to the public, I’m often in the galleries going about my work among some of the great aviation treasures of the world. At every turn there is an airplane that left its mark on history or pointed the way to the future. It’s an inspiring setting. History’s ghosts swirl in your imagination. But, as rich as this experience is, there are times, alone in the quiet of the Museum, that I cannot help but imagine what it would be like to see these airplanes come back to life—to experience the sights and sounds of these world-changing machines before they became silent milestones of history in the Museum. An opportunity to do just that will occur on May 8, 2015, over Washington, DC. During the noon hour on that day, the 70th anniversary of VE-Day, the Arsenal of Democracy: World War II Victory Capitol Flyover will bring more than 50 World War II aircraft over the nation’s capital. In 15 separate formations, representing key battles or moments in World War II, a spectacular gathering of original warbirds will fly over the city to honor the men and women who served our nation during that critical time in history, and made a vital contribution to the Allied victory. Representing the millions who served in the air, on the ground, and at home in America building the tools our servicemen took to battle, several hundred World War II veterans will be assembled at the National World War II Memorial on the Mall to witness the flyover. It will be a special moment for them to remember, and an important moment for the rest of us to recognize what they did and sacrificed to preserve the society we freely share today. In the spirit of the flyover, the Museum has created a special online audio gallery with curator talks, historic news reports, and music of the 1940s.
The honoring of our World War II veterans continues the Saturday, May 9, when more than 20 airplanes participating in the flyover will be on view, along with a range of public programs, at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia for Fly-In to Victory Day: A Celebration of the End of World War II in Europe.
These events are all about recognizing those who served in and lived through World War II, those still with us and those who live in our memories. Please share a story of someone you know who lived during World War II and add to our collective memory of that pivotal era in our history.