Cottrel: Legendary B-25 bombers a sight to behold

Thousands of people swarmed onto the airstrip at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Monday as 11 World War II era B-25s landed to mark the 75th anniversary of the historic Doolittle Raiders attack against Japan. MARSHALL GORBY/STAFF

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Thousands of people swarmed onto the airstrip at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Monday as 11 World War II era B-25s landed to mark the 75th anniversary of the historic Doolittle Raiders attack against Japan. MARSHALL GORBY/STAFF

The gathering of B-25 bombers for the 75th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid this last week has been memorable. Thousands of us visited Grimes Field just north of Urbana, so that we might see those legendary airplanes up close.

My husband and I spent Friday afternoon outside the Airport Cafe watching the war birds arrive. Each flying antique was greeted and welcomed like a long lost friend. The incoming planes and crews were honored guests.

I was so impressed by this world class event and thrilled that the small, but versatile, Urbana airport was able to host the event so well. Showing “30 Seconds over Tokyo” at the old Urbana theater Friday night was perfect coordination. What better way to explain what the Doolittle Raid was and meant to America?

Some of us shelled out precious hundreds to ride in a B-25. And Facebook was filled with photos of our friends and neighbors standing by these bombers with the spectacular nose art and names like “God and Country”, “Panchito”, “Barbie III” and “Devil Dog.”

Last week, we thrilled to the roar of propeller driven flight. We looked up from yard work, shopping trips, and Easter eggs hunts to watch the magnificent bombers fly over. If we heard one of the planes approaching we ran out into the yard hoping to see it.

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The photos posted by the amateurs and the professionals have been a joy to behold. There has been such excitement in the community over this event.

We hated to see them take off for the Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson Monday. For two brief days, the Mitchell Bombers had been ours and we didn’t want to share.

World War II was terrible, but within that war there were moments like the Doolittle Raid when our working together to defeat a common enemy was nothing short of a miracle — and those times need to be remembered.

I hope we will use the excitement we experienced these last few days to spur us on to tell our young folk more about World War II.

Teaching of World War II history in our schools is restricted by the limitations of test-based curriculum. History just isn’t taught as it used to be and I find myself worrying that those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it.

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Some of the newest generation don’t even know who we fought in World War II, let alone how our country sacrificed and worked together to rid the world of the evils that started that war. And they need to see that bitter enemies can someday be friends again.

Over the next four years, we will see more World War Two 75th anniversary events. Those commemorations will be the perfect time to tell the youngest generation the whole story. Watch the coverage with them on television, share a book of WWII photos and maps, tell them about great grandpa’s experience, or even watch one of the old black and white movies. Help them remember the importance of names like Iwo Jima, Midway, Normandy, and Battle of the Bulge.

We need to remember the sad days and the hard fought victories. Those triumphs over insurmountable challenges that inspired our greatest generation can continue to inspire us today.

So many of the awkward world situations we face today had their beginnings during that war. Helping the youth of today understand World War Two helps them begin to understand today’s issues.

And it can give us hope for our future.

When Americans overlook their differences and work together to defeat a common foe, we can still do great things.

It might seem inconceivable that we can get the drug epidemic under control or cure cancer or stop all terrorism, but is it any more inconceivable than launching land-based bombers in 1942 from a carrier in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and bombing Tokyo?

Working together we can do it.

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