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Inspiration Is Where You Find It

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In a season marked by grim economic numbers and tiresome politics, inspiration and encouragement seems a rarity, but it can come when you least expect it. Our Cub was in the hangar last week for its annual and we discovered that when you own an airplane that's so simple that nothing can break, something sometimes does, nonetheless. The Cub's exhaust system developed some cracks and the only thing for it was to replace the entire system. Not a real biggie cost wise, but a minor spike in the Wal-Mart budget required to keep a J-3 in top shape. I found an exhaust system and had it shipped to our crack IA, Danny Gualandri. He's busy with a lot of work around the field and I figured he would get to it sometime during the week.

But the next morning, it was installed and we were airworthy again. Even though he gives us a break on the labor for the Cub, he'd put the exhaust system at the top of his list. The next day, he told me why. While I'm at the airport two or three times a week, he's there every day and knows what we all know: Flight activity at what used to be a busy airport is a fraction of what it once was. "I just like seeing airplanes fly here. There aren't enough of them. I wanted to get you guys set for the weekend," he told me.

So, he did and we did. The Cub flies a lot—five or six times a week—and is practically a fixture in the pattern. We don't exactly need motivational speeches to take the old girl for a hop, but it's nice to have someone jollying us along with good mechanical support and advice. It's the kind of first-class service that used to be more common than it is today. So a tip of the hat to Danny and his helpers.

I wasn't going to mention Saturday's date in my blog, but on the way to the airport, I pulled up behind a jeep with a tire cover painted in a 911 motif. "Never forget," it said, along with an image of the twin towers. I thought to myself…no danger of that happening. Around town, the flags were appropriately at half mast, the cable channels choked with 911 programming. Venice Airport has a painful connection with the event, since several of the hijackers trained here.

While I acknowledge all of this I am, frankly, also getting weary of it. There's a permeable membrane between respectful remembrance and wallowing self-pity and nine years on, we tend more toward the latter than the former. We do maudlin in this country like no other. We've raised paranoia to religious status. 911 is politicized beyond anything decent. We've done to ourselves more harm than anything these bums could have inflicted upon us.

To its credit, even though no industry was more touched by 911 than aviation, we, as participants, seem to have put the event in perspective. The same is hardly true of the culture in general, our metastasizing federal government and especially the mainstream media, with its incessant need for anniversary stories, as if we need to re-live the event a hundred more times just to make sure we "never forget." It's time for another bumper sticker that says: Let's move on. We can honor the dead and survivors of the dead without hammering ourselves with an endless, repeating loop of 911 imagery.

While I think memorials are a good and necessary thing, I'm not much for sentimentality and group hand wringing. I don't know about you, but when the 10th anniversary rolls around, I wouldn't mind being on the dark side of the moon for a couple of weeks.

Comments (42)

Hear, hear; on both keeping the old girl airborn and putting the past behind us.

I dug out a copy of an open letter I wrote to the 9/11 terrorists on the morning of 9/12/2001. In it I predicted the terrorists' actions would strengthen our country, that Americans were far too resilient and intelligent to allow the actions of a few mad terrorists -- no matter how heinious -- to impact our freedom and personal liberty, or otherwise negatively influence our government and our society.

Boy was I wrong...

Posted by: Mark Sletten | September 13, 2010 8:43 AM    Report this comment

Yeah, it seems like the victim mentality has replaced intestinal fortitude in the American way of life. We still hear about Pearl Harbor around December, but it only took 4 years to pretty much wipe out any trace of the military mega-complex that perpetrated that particular atrocity. 9 years later and we still can't find a single robe wearing Arab in the hills of Pakistan. I guess "The Greatest Generation" was just that.

Ok, we were attacked. What are you going to do about it? Report it as a bullying act and wait for someone to pass a law?

Posted by: Jerry Plante | September 13, 2010 8:53 AM    Report this comment

Wow Paul, you are really cold. In addition to the thousands of civilians who were murdered in that awful burning hole your comment comes across as being rather indifferent to the over 300 + firemen and police who had the incredible courage to run INTO a burning building for the sole purpose of trying to save the lives of strangers they never even met.

On 9/11 all we're asking from people like you is just ONE single day of simple rememberance and respect for those who made the ultimate sacrifice so you can enjoy freedoms like flying your own plane in this country.

If that's too much to ask of you then next year please go to the other side of the moon cause I really don't want to look at people like you who act so "put out" by it all.

Posted by: Dan James | September 13, 2010 10:52 AM    Report this comment

Hear, hear. Couldn't agree more on the 9/11 thing, Paul.

Dan: there's a huge difference between remembering the contributions of emergency workers and police in a respectful way and the maudlin self-indulgence that actually characterizes this country's commemoration of 9/11.

Posted by: Ceri Reid | September 13, 2010 11:01 AM    Report this comment

I sure wish I had Mr. Bertorelli's outstanding ability as a word smith. Perhaps we should have "just one" special day of remembrance for all our past loved ones also including the 450,000 American road deaths, 250,000 suicides and 200,000 homicides the past ten years. Let's not talk too much about general aviation though. Thanks you for your succinct pragmatism in this blog!

Posted by: Art Sebesta | September 13, 2010 12:31 PM    Report this comment

"We've done to ourselves more harm than anything these bums could have inflicted upon us. "

Paul's right, we let them win. Everytime we give in to another loss of freedom in the name of National Security, like LASP, they won.

Posted by: John Hyle | September 13, 2010 12:38 PM    Report this comment

Dan, why don't we 'remember' Pearl Harbor the way we remember 9/11? What about the bombing of the Murrah building in OKC? Khobar Towers? The US Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya? The Marine barracks in Beirut?

Need I go on?

I feel for all those who lost friends or loved ones on 9/11/2001 in NYC, DC and PA, but these are not the only innocent Americans who have died in our history. I will never forget the sacrifices made by Americans -- living and dead -- the world over to protect my freedom, but the last thing I need is to be constantly exhorted to remember 9/11 (but no other significant dates) by pompous, grandstanding politicians.

Posted by: Mark Sletten | September 13, 2010 12:45 PM    Report this comment

Art Sebesta wrote:

"Perhaps we should have "just one" special day of remembrance for all our past loved ones also including the 450,000 American road deaths, 250,000 suicides and 200,000 homicides the past ten years."

Are you equating the deaths of people from car accidents, suicides, and domestic homicides in this country with MURDER BY TERRORISTS ?

Posted by: Dan James | September 13, 2010 1:13 PM    Report this comment

Mark Sletten wrote "why don't we 'remember' Pearl Harbor the way we remember 9/11? What about the bombing of the Murrah building in OKC? Khobar Towers? The US Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya? The Marine barracks in Beirut?"

In the years shortly after Pearl Harbor ( before my time ) I'm told they did memorialize the victims in a special way - does that somehow insult you ? And we have every year since with a holiday that obviously doesn't mean much to you - it's called Memorial Day and you owe your freedom to it.

As for the Murrah bombing victims, many of whom were civilians, they ARE honored ( as they should be ) on the anniversary of it every April 19th and a wonderful memorial of empty chairs and a reflection pool was built to specifically honor just them - does that insult you too ?

As for the others the difference is they didn't happen on US soil nor were most of the victims innocent civilians or firemen and policemen.

I cannot believe how incredibly self centered some of you are being over this. If the current state of honoring all those innocent victims and 300 + heroes somehow somehow offends you then don't watch.

But don't EVER take away mine and other peoples rights to remember and honor them or YOU will have let the terrorists win by hardening your hearts. PB I always suspected you were a cold hearted #@$%@#! and you proved it with this topic. SHAME on selfish you.

FDNY / PDNY - NEVER EVER FORGET !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Dan James | September 13, 2010 1:34 PM    Report this comment

I guess it's easier to put a "Never Forget" bumper sticker on your car and watch History Channel shows on 9/11 than do what really needs to be done; enlist in the armed services, demand our elected officials do what's necessary to stop terrorism and make the necessary sacrifices to wipe it out, even if we need to roll over a corruption laden government in some "stan" country. Instead we created a whole new government agency to not do what other government agencies didn't do to prevent the attack in the first place. America has no stomach for conflict. As soon as the body bags begin to roll into Andrews, we roll over. Shame on us for taking the easy way out.

Instead of saying "Never Forget" we should be saying "Never Again". We dishonor the sacrifices of FDNY/PDNY by not making their ultimate sacrifice worthwhile.

Posted by: Jerry Plante | September 13, 2010 2:00 PM    Report this comment

We have a tremendous loss in the Trade Center destruction. I loved seeing the glow off those buildings during sunset from Hwy 17 in northern New Jersey. I hope the new structure will also glow for us. Live and invest in the future! For all.

Posted by: Art Sebesta | September 13, 2010 2:07 PM    Report this comment

At the risk of Paul receiving even more epaulets to wear on his shoulders, that was a wonderfully written blog there, sir. Nice segue from...Your IA friend, working for aviation with such goodwill, is a mature example of getting beyond the anger and restriction from something in the past. The wheel just keeps on turning for some and is stuck for others. There's folks still mad about the Civil War outcome - this is nothing new. We remember by living greater, not clinging to temporary reactions.

Let me know if there is any room available in the spaceship, eh?

Posted by: David Miller | September 13, 2010 2:27 PM    Report this comment

Dan, you're allowing your emotion to drive your intellect. I never said I was insulted by anyone's decsion to memorialize those people and events they deem important enough to memorialize. What I said is I resent blowhard politicians taking advantage of such solemn occasions to place themselves in the spotlight. I resent blowhard politicians taking advantage of such solemn occasions for their own cynical benefit. Worse, I resent blowhard politicians continually whipping the flames of hatred in the name of the fallen.

I believe those who fell on 9/11 -- civilians, police, firefighters, whatever -- would be ashamed of how our society and government reacted since then. I believe they would be ashamed that our governenment has destroyed civil liberties and individual freedoms in the name of the so-called "War on Terrorism," declared mostly in their name. If Americans must die for their country, they should die for freedom, not as an excuse for greater government power to intrude on privacy; not as an excuse for greater government power to detain indefinitely; not as an excuse for extraordinary rendition; not as an excuse to use "enhanced interrogation techniques" on indefinitely detained people suspected -- not accused, tried and convicted, just suspected -- of terrorism.

Posted by: Mark Sletten | September 13, 2010 3:03 PM    Report this comment

For the record: I never said we (the US) didn't (or shouldn't) remember the victims of the other infamous events I mentioned. I mentioned them to point out we don't hold annual, national events to memorialize them anymore. Why? Is it because they don't deserve such memorialization? No. The sad truth is because there is no longer any political hay to made by politicians for doing so.

Instead, the victims of those events are remembered locally, by the community most affected by their loss, usually with quiet dignified ceremonies intended to actually honor the fallen rather than make political points for those seeking relection to a national offices. Such simple, honest ceremonies are not interesting enough for national media coverage.

BTW, having served my 20 years in the US military, I suspect I have a much greater appreciation for the meaning of Memorial Day than you give me credit for. I will never forget the ultimate sacrifice made by my countrymen -- some of them close friends -- to secure my freedom.

Posted by: Mark Sletten | September 13, 2010 3:04 PM    Report this comment

Mark Sletten wrote "I believe those who fell on 9/11 -- civilians, police, firefighters, whatever -- would be ashamed of how our society and government reacted since then. I believe they would be ashamed that our governenment has destroyed civil liberties and individual freedoms in the name of the so-called "War on Terrorism,"

What TOTAL crap - how damn dare you assume those fallen heroes would be ashamed of their government. For people like you its only all about YOU and YOUR civil liberties and YOUR freedoms. You are nothing but a selfish taker.

I bet NOT ONE of the 300 + firemen and policemen was thinking about THEIR civil liberties as they ran into that burning building and sacrificed their lives for others. But all YOU can think of is how it so adversly affected YOUR rights.

You are a TAKER, and your kind is truly disgusting.

Posted by: Dan James | September 13, 2010 4:01 PM    Report this comment

Dave, I've got a few seats left, I'll pencil you in. We may need an additional section here...

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | September 13, 2010 4:24 PM    Report this comment

Dan, I will gently ask you to reel in your emotions. Nothing Mark said deserves the above diatribe. He is merely expressing a point of few in a rational, reasonable manner.

I understand that your view is different and that's fine. But please refrain from the name calling.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | September 13, 2010 4:39 PM    Report this comment

Dan, I'm sorry to have offended you; it was certainly not my intention.

As to my purported selfishness, I will again point out I spent two decades in the service of our nation. I'm not saying I gained no benefit from the experience (indeed, it was the time of my life -- ah youth...), but there is a reason it is called "the service." If you have served then you know what I'm talking about.

My concern for OUR civil liberties and freedoms began with my enlistment, when I took an oath to protect and defend the US Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. That document clearly outlines the freedoms, liberties and rights we all enjoy as citizens. While I would like to claim a higher calling in making the choice to take that oath, alas, the decision was neither selfish nor selfless -- it was more a matter of expediency, if you know what I mean.

Be that as it may, my commitment to that oath was no less real. Further, it did not end with my retirement from the military. And while I no longer enjoy the might of the US military as an ally, I can still remain true to my oath by calling attention to the cretins -- be they foreign or domestic -- who would seek to destroy that which I vowed to protect.

That includes, most emphatically, any politician who would give up OUR freedom for the illusion of security.

Posted by: Mark Sletten | September 13, 2010 5:16 PM    Report this comment

Paul

Thank you for speaking up, I don't think there's much else to be said so I'll stop right here.

Posted by: David Ricker | September 13, 2010 7:11 PM    Report this comment

Paul you've put yourself on some very fragile ground defending someone who says comments as selfish as Mark has made. When someone dare says those who gave their lives to save others "would be ashamed of how our society and government reacted since then" - that person deserves to be called out for the selfish USER he truly is.

What's the problem Mark is having to take your shoes off and send them through an X-Ray scanner when you fly commercial too much to ask of you ? Does it infringe on your precious "rights" too much ??

You and your comments are totally irrelevant.

Posted by: Dan James | September 13, 2010 7:32 PM    Report this comment

I'll agree with you on both accounts for this one Paul. Next year take the cub flying and honor our heros in your on way by exercising your freedom

Posted by: Rob "daSlob" Schaffer | September 13, 2010 8:09 PM    Report this comment

I spent 9/11 with a great LSA repairman who travels around Michigan, Ohio and Indiana keeping our aircraft flying. I had some minor issues that needed attention and he was there to help. His attention to detail and service orientation restores your faith in people and flying.

Posted by: DANA NICKERSON | September 13, 2010 9:43 PM    Report this comment

Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.

Posted by: Joe Hilbig | September 14, 2010 2:59 AM    Report this comment

Joe, Thank you and bless your humor! Mark, It would be a honor to serve with you anywhere, anytime. Welcome to the Militia! Dan, I empathize with and respect your position. Please remember Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and many others serve gloriously, having surrendered their choices past dripping dusk to drizzling dawn. Please listen to Gen. MacArthur's farewell address from which I quote. Paul, I see you "ride to the sound of the guns". Thank you for your courage. I am curious about the mentioned tickets but in any case I must stand with the troops. Peace be with you

Posted by: Art Sebesta | September 14, 2010 7:50 AM    Report this comment

Joe Hilbig wrote "Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig."

Joe I have heard the WTC terrorists call Americans "pigs". After I merely defended the 911 heroes and their memory and yet use that name towards me, well I just want you to know the terrorists would be very happy to hear you call another American that.

I never thought I'd hear another American stoop to their level.

Posted by: Dan James | September 14, 2010 6:50 PM    Report this comment

Dan, how is it that you immediately decided that this refered to you?

In fact, I was calling no one a pig. It's a very old saying that means it's futile to try to educate someone who is incapable of learning what you are trying to teach.

Does this apply to you?

And speaking of insults . . . did you just call me an American?

Posted by: Joe Hilbig | September 14, 2010 9:13 PM    Report this comment

Stop trying to take back YOUR words Joe.

Like the president said immediately after the 9/11 attacks - you're either with us or you're against us. Its' clear to us all you aren't.

Posted by: Dan James | September 14, 2010 11:04 PM    Report this comment

It's not clear to me, Mr. James. But what is clear to me, and perhaps many here, is that you took a thought-provoking blog for interactive discussion and attempted to hijack it for your own use to vent, by attacking and ridiculing anyone - Americans yet... and Joe, who disagrees with you.

Personally, I'm more concerned with air pollution than any terrorist attack coming. With my allergies, it's a worry. But poverty, crime, terrorism, fear, greed, etc., they'll all be here as long as man is here, and long after we're flying on a new plane...

Or a spaceship to the Moon.

Posted by: David Miller | September 15, 2010 2:10 AM    Report this comment

Oh, boy. Here's what has happened to the US since 9/11. Extremism. There is no sense of collaboration or compromise. You're either for or against. No gray. My favorite bumper sticker - "Be Offended." 9/11 was a despicable event; however, what's the most dangerous thing facing this country right now? - Our loss of indivdual rights.

Posted by: John Williams | September 15, 2010 7:02 AM    Report this comment

Save me a seat for that trip to the dark side of the moon next year!

Posted by: Unknown | September 15, 2010 7:58 AM    Report this comment

If you look at the sentiments generally expressed in this blog, I think you can actually sense that willingness to move on that I long for. My guess now is that it may be more advanced that I imagine it is.

I rarely see anyone express the "with-us-or-against-us" attitude. Even George W. moderated on that toward the end of his second term. All of these things are good signs.

The trick now is to reconfigure he government to a more responsive model. Some challenge, that.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | September 15, 2010 11:33 AM    Report this comment

Interesting blog, Paul. And you've obviously touched on some issues that are very important to your readers...

I'm not commenting on 9/11 as I'm not a US citizen (although a frequent visitor and sometime resident) - I don't feel I have the right to intrude on the feelings and emotions that an attack on the US homeland unleashes.

Rather, I'm making some observations about anniversaries and sequels from the perspective of marketing, and the fact that election campaigns are often driven by marketing imperatives. Marketing 101 says Engage With Your Audience. To do this, marketers and politicians look for and use the emotions and memories that are always present, at the surface or just below. These emotions and memories are triggered by recent traumatic (and sometimes enjoyable) events like the death of a parent, birth of a child, or a national disaster. By invoking those memories the marketer gets a quicker Uplift; think birth of a child==Joy, death of a loved one==Sadness.

This is why Anniversaries are so important in marketing, because they get quicker Uplift for the spend. Same with Sequels. Which means we can shortly expect Gone With The Wind III.

Posted by: Laurence Burrows | September 15, 2010 8:21 PM    Report this comment

Why don't we all stay here and send Dan and his ilk on a one way ticket to the dark side of the moon?

Posted by: Adrian Dodd | September 16, 2010 6:06 AM    Report this comment

I would submit that it's time to "move on" when the war is over -- the US' Civil War, WWII (Pearl Harbor). Perhaps there is some degree of moving on with regard to 9/11, but this war is not over.

Posted by: David Homan | September 16, 2010 7:43 AM    Report this comment

Not sure Dan is up for the lunar trip. My thinking here is that there's room for different opinions on this, but under no circumstances should anyone be called "irrelevant" for having expressed a rational, well-reasoned opinion of any kind.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | September 16, 2010 9:04 AM    Report this comment

Thank you Paul, I am in the airline industry and you can't imagine the hysteria still out there. We are constantly bombarded with policies and procedures of negligable value at a great cost to our freedoms. These things eat away at our abilities to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Cubs rule, I've been flying mine for over 40 yrs.

Posted by: William Rucker | September 16, 2010 8:35 PM    Report this comment

Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness. That phrase should be carved into a tombstone someplace. question is where. Doesn't a Franklin or two go a long way to make one happy? Here's one: They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Posted by: Andre Abreu | September 16, 2010 10:36 PM    Report this comment

What seems to be lost in this discussion is that anniversaries about something we all know about has the draw of "e plurbis unum" (from many, one). As social types, we both crave and enjoy something that unites us in one thought that has no sides or diverse opinions. Anniversaries of "us against them" and "weren't/aren't we great" make us feel we belong. Yes, media play on that craving, yes, politicians pander to it, but they don't diminish our need for it.

Posted by: Howie Keefe | September 17, 2010 12:44 AM    Report this comment

'Us against them' and 'aren't we great' don't have to be true - it's in that important actuality that Paul and others are seeing the concern of moving beyond the cry of 'never forget!'. And since forgetting is impossible to do, what that person is really saying is, 'I'm still angry and not ready to move on, so no one else should either.' Some just aren't ready to let go of their anger and live away from it, that's all. But some were ready eight years ago.

It's particularly important because, like the so-called wars on crime and drugs, the 'war' on terrorism will never be over. It will pause, morph, hide, or intensify according to how many affected individuals can move on from the past and how well governments respond to that triumph.

Posted by: David Miller | September 17, 2010 2:34 AM    Report this comment

On my morning sweep of news sites I came across Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity and Stephen Colbert's March to Keep Fear Alive.

I'm posting the link because these skits are so resonant with what I really think is happening in this country: We're all getting sick of radical loudmouths and fear mongering.

http://www.comedycentral.com/

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | September 17, 2010 9:04 AM    Report this comment

I'm reminded of my favorite quote from a "Man of All Seasons" whenever there is a suggestion to bend the civil laws and freedoms of our country in the face of terror:

""What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ... And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you - where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's, and if you cut them down -- and you're just the man to do it -- do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!"

Great article Paul as always

Patrick http://www.circletoland.com

Posted by: Patrick Pohler | September 17, 2010 11:52 AM    Report this comment

We cannot banish dangers, but we can banish fears. We must not demean life by standing in awe of death.

Posted by: BRADLEY SPATZ | September 17, 2010 2:47 PM    Report this comment

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