The Airborne Symphony on 78s

“Not without warning”

I’ve been thinking about a set of old 78s my parents used to have. It was called The Airborne Symphony, composed during World War II by Marc Blitzstein. It tells the history of human flight from the past to the experiences of combat pilots. I may have been 9 or 10 when I listened to the symphony in its entirety. The story of flight fit nicely with my interest in the Apollo program. I found the “hurry up and wait” segment funny. But it was the final section that sticks in my memory.

As I thought about the upcoming Biden Administration, these words from this passage of The Airborne Symphony echoed in my mind:

Thankfulness, not without grief.
The bright morning, not without warning.
Watch this victory.
Whose victory?
Whose glory?

Shall men,
Once again ready to resume the conquest of the skies,
Once again be stopped?
Once again create the enemy?

Watch this victory.
Blessing of the bright morning
To the airborne.
Not without warning.

It was a warning that blared loudly on Wednesday, January 6, with the attack on the Capitol Building.

Marc Blitzstein and those who fought and served during World War II understood something many have forgotten. The battle against fascism, hatred, and cruelty never ends. Defeating the Nazis in World War II didn’t guarantee that those evil forces would be vanquished forever. If we let up, they would rise again. And seeing the numbers of rioters who wore neo-Nazi t-shirts and tattoos, they clearly did. We can’t assume that freedom and goodness will prevail. It takes vigilance to preserve our liberty, decency, and humanity.

Our battle for America’s soul won’t end when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris take their oaths of office. And it’s not just the job of our elected officials. It’s up to all of us to show kindness and respect to others and teach those values to our children. It’s up to all of us to uphold our democracy, protect its laws, and defend the rights of others. It’s up to all of us to protect the values we hold dear.

The dark forces that attacked the Capitol, foul our social media, and lay ready to seduce and deceive our friends, families, and even ourselves—they are still there. We must be ready to fight them and defend our decency and dignity. Watch this victory and the bright morning, not without warning.