An upcoming air show in San Diego county is being protested by a group of military veterans belonging to the local chapter of Veterans For Peace, which, according to its website, is a global anti-war organization with 140 chapters worldwide.
On Aug. 25, a group of veterans carrying banners marched through rush-hour traffic across an overpass along Interstate 15 near Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, where the three-day-long air show, called the MCAS Miramar Air Show, is scheduled to begin on Sept. 23.
Members of San Diego Veterans For Peace told the local NBC affiliate, 7 San Diego, that they hoped the protest would inspire families to avoid the air show, which they say glorifies war.
“These planes don’t drop cupcakes on people,” David Patterson, an Air Force veteran and the former president of the San Diego chapter, told 7 San Diego. “These things drop bombs and they blow people up.”
Another Veterans For Peace member, Jackie Hider, said, “These machines are built to kill, that’s what they’re built for. They’re not built for fun. This isn’t Disneyland.”
On Aug. 17, an op-ed written by Patterson was published in The San Diego Union-Tribune. In his essay, Patterson rails against the air show, arguing that the event promotes war and unnecessarily puts service members lives at risk. To bolster his argument, he points to the recent death of Blue Angels pilot Capt. Jeff Kuss, whose jet crashed during an air show in Tennessee on June 2.
“The loss of life and aircraft underscores the question: Why do we put our highly trained military people at risk to entertain the population and promote war at venues like the Miramar Air Show?” he wrote. “Since budget sequestration in 2013, the military contractors have stepped in to make sure the show goes on.”
In an opposing piece, also published in The San Diego Union-Tribune, MCAS Miramar Deputy Director of Public Affairs 1st Lt. Gabriel Adibe argued that the air show is an opportunity for him and his fellow Marines at Miramar to “open our gates to the San Diego community and surrounding area — an opportunity that allows us to show our appreciation and strengthen our bond as understanding neighbors and community partners.”
Air Station Miramar was built by the Army in 1917. Every year, the air show draws as many as 500,000 people.