Opinion: Stealth bombers at the Rose Parade: Why?


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I missed Monday’s non-New Year’s Rose Parade, but not on account of sleeping in. Rather, I spent the second morning of 2012 -- one of rather exceptionally good winter weather, even for Southern California -- on Santa Anita Golf Course, where one of the parade floats was kind enough to come to us.

I speak not of the flower-covered vehicles that lumber slowly down Colorado Boulevard every year, not far from the golf course that sits almost adjacent to Pasadena, but of the airborne kind capable of dropping nuclear warheads almost anywhere on the planet. Around 8 a.m., a B-2 stealth bomber made a low pass over us, banked right and flew south as it gained altitude over the San Gabriel Valley. The whole thing was over in a few seconds. Mission accomplished, I suppose.


We Americans, many of us who conflate patriotism with unmatched military power, have grown accustomed to such displays of aerial supremacy. Warplanes frequently make low -- and, admittedly, awe-inspiring -- passes over a number of events associated with quintessentially American rituals, from baseball games to Fourth of July parties to, yes, the Rose Parade.

Common as these flyovers are, I never understood their appropriateness, especially for an event as pacified as the Rose Parade, where the main attractions are giant, animated floral arrangements and marching bands. I quipped to my golf partners that perhaps the flyover might be a not-so-subtle warning to Rose Parade viewers around the world that they risk seeing one of these death machines over their countries if their governments go to war with ours.

I don’t get it; perhaps some readers can explain the appeal to me.


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-- Paul Thornton