I think I've been pretty clear with everyone here and in meatspace that I have a true disdain for war and warmongers. But I do genuinely understand the need to have a military strong enough to protect us (I'm not naive enough to imagine that the lion and the lamb are going to lay down together any time soon) and I realize that we need to show the American public what we're spending all that money on.
I am also a closet motorhead chick. Sorry. I get it from my father.
As a result, I get a real charge out of going to the Cleveland Air Show. I love the big jets. I love the rumble in my chest when the afterburners come on. I think the Harrier jet may be the most impressive freakin' thing on Earth. And I just love all those incredibly proud, polite young men who are there to guide overweight mommies from the suburbs through tours of C-130 transports and Chinook helicopters.
But this year, I was accompanied for the first time by my almost seven-year-old and her classmate from school. And for the first time, I was struck by something else. Not all those guides were young men. More and more of them are young women. And not that stereotypical butch soldier we sometimes see depicted in movies. These are young, pretty, feminine women. They are physically fit, to be certain. But they also are well spoken, soft spoken, and carry an air of remarkable confidence and competence. They wear make-up. And they're not just playing support roles. I was flabbergasted, after a truly impressive faux helicopter battle that featured six wicked-looking Army copters, to see a woman step out of one of the cockpits. Her name was Patty. She had red hair and wore yellow and black-patterned nail polish.
I made my daughter and her friend go up and ask her to sign their T-shirts. I don't know about you, but I haven't met many female helicopter pilots in my life. She was gracious, gathered all those little girls around her (I sense there were several other mothers in the crowd who were as struck as I was) and she looked them all in their eager faces, saying "If you want to fly, don't you dare let anyone tell you that you can't do it. Go back to school, study math, take good care of your bodies. I'll see you in flight school, ladies."
I had two other pilots (both men, one in the military and one on a commercial plane) tell my daughter the same thing, as she climbed into the pilot seats of their aircraft. "You can be a pilot. Girls are smart and capable and better at doing two or three things at once than any boy. Don't let them fool you."
I don't think I would ever like to see my daughter in the military, even knowing that the chances she'd ever be in combat are slim. I have too much distrust for our government to trust them with my baby's life. But I like this message of empowerment for our daughters. It's a step in the right direction.