Thunder over Louisville

   If you’re not from the Louisville area you’re probably wondering “what is Thunder over Louisville?” 

    Thunder over Louisville is an annual combination air/fireworks show held the second Saturday before the Kentucky Derby.   It’s the official kickoff of Derby festivities.  The show begins around 3 pm with one of the largest air shows in America and culminates with North America’s largest musically synchronized fireworks display around 10.

   The riverfront in Louisville and Southern Indiana is packed for miles from the shore front to the pinnacle of downtown skyscrapers.  So much fun — and a coveted ticket to some venues.

   This year’s show featured a retrospective of our military’s experiences from World War II to today.

   I was born a baby buster in 1963.  My formative years included hippies, yippies, protests, peace symbols, MIA bracelets and choker beads (yeah, I had one).  At 9 years old I wanted my hair long and my peace sign omnipotent.  Look in our family photo album and you’ll see me sporting a red, white and blue t-shirt at my birthday party.  Since they didn’t carry my then size, I’m pretty sure it didn’t come from The Fashion Post.

   But,  in 1972 (can’t be sure but recollection says it was about then) somber reality hit our street.  The parents of my neighbor were notified by a group of sharply dressed marines  — that their only son had been killed in Viet Nam.

   Because of the age difference I never knew Bill Whaley but by all accounts he was a great guy — taken away from us – a hero, too soon.

   Trauma hit a year or so later when the infamous 1974 tornado outbreak ripped through — destroying much of our neighborhood.

   Violence, upset and death appeared to be normal in my youth and without sounding cowardly I spent the next decade or so hoping I’d never have to fight in the military — and, as it turns out, I was never called.  

   Here’s the wrap….

   Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s my experiences – but ….. I regret not serving.

   My grandfathers, father, uncles, brother-in-law, schoolmates, fraternity brothers, customers and friends SERVED.

   My co-worker Berry Hampton has a son-in-law who flies f-18’s off the front of a boat (albeit a BIG boat).  He’s had a few tours of combat duty.  He VOLUNTEERED.

   A wonderful family, who are friends, the McGarvey’s,  have a son serving.  He VOLUNTEERED.

   America’s most recent Medal of Honor recipient is from Kentucky.  He saved lives under the most formidable of circumstances.  He VOLUNTEERED.

   You probably know someone from your school, church or town who’s done the same.  They are true American heroes.

    I don’t begrudge anyone who has disagreed with the politics of militarism.   Though, never in the wake of a draft — I’ve always had a choice to serve… but I never signed up.  

   To those who have served…. family, classmates,  fraternity brothers, customers, neighbors and acquaintances I’m unaware that served… THANK YOU!

   I still fear the horrors and atrocities you have endured.

   Thunder over Louisville helps remind me what you give so that WE, the citizens you protect, can enjoy the freedoms you’ve worked so hard to preserve.

   You’re all WAY TOO COOL!

    Wish I had served.


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1 Response to Thunder over Louisville

  1. Donna says:

    Wow, Bob. That is a powerful piece of writing! I, too, am in awe of those who are brave enough to put their lives in harm’s way for a greater cause. What a wonderful THANK YOU to those who do!

    Donna Hampton

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