Mothers Day at the War Show

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“Air shows” epitomize a cultural epidemic in which militarism and war technology are glorified as a major source of family fun and entertainment.
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It was the "Mother of All Air Shows!" The highly-militarized National Capital Air Show in Ottawa, Canada, was held on Mothers' Day, May 11, 1997. (Ironically Mothers' Day was conceived by Julia Ward Howe an American abolitionist and suffragette who wanted to inspire women to rise up against men's wars. See her statement below.)

The vast majority of the aircraft performing stunts at Canadian air shows are war planes, and most are America. In 1997, COAT received permission to have a booth inside Ottawa's air show. Once there we displayed original paintings by Iraqi children. Their artwork, collected by Canadian peace activists in Iraq, graphically showed US and allied warplanes bombing that country during the 1991 war.

The film juxtaposes jarring images and interviews from inside the war show with footage from Iraq. For example, we see:
* War planes zooming overhead to entertain families with young children
* Pentagon footage of these same varieties of war planes that bombed Iraq
* Iraqi children’s art depicting war planes dropping bombs
* Degrading paintings of women on the fuselages of warplanes that bombed Iraq
* Thrilled kids and youth describing their favourite war planes
* Interviews with Iraqi victims of war
* Children enjoying fair-ground rides at the war show in mini-bombers with toy machine guns
* Peace activists inside the war show, including the documentary-maker interviewing his mother
* Images of devastation and suffering caused by war planes in Iraq
* Smiling spectators touching war planes and their missiles; and children in cockpits
* Statements by former US Att. Gen. Ramsey Clark in Iraq in 1991 describing the sanctions program which the UN said caused the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of five
* Proud pilots on the runway posing with their war planes for photos by adoring fans

For years after 1997, until the show was cancelled, COAT held events outside its gates, including a Festival of Peace. COAT also produced materials about war shows and urged activists across Canada to draw attention to these events locally. Many did.

In 2002, COAT produced an issue of its magazine, Press for Conversion!, called:

"Canada's Military Air Shows:
Reaching New Heights in the Glorification of War."

Using many sources, including files acquired through Access to Information, this issue revealed that 82% of the almost 400 aircraft that “entertained” at 26 Canadian air shows in 2001 were military warplanes. And, 60% of these military planes were from the US Air Force.

This issue also listed dozens of US-led wars, invasions, interventions, regime changes and other military operations in which these types of warplanes were used.

The magazine also details the kinds of bombs, missiles and other munitions that these types of warplanes are designed to "deliver" to their targets.

It also exposed the primary functions of "air shows," namely, propaganda, indoctrination and recruitment.

This 30-minute documentary was narrated by Marion Dewar, the former Mayor of Ottawa (1978-1985), an NDP Member of Parliament (1986-1988), and a mentor of COAT. The film was written and produced for COAT by Richard Sanders.


Mother’s Day Proclamation, 1870
By Julia Ward Howe

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts, Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own. It says: “Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.” Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war, Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means Whereby the great human family can live in peace, Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask That a general congress of women without limit of nationality ..., To promote the alliance of the different nationalities, The amicable settlement of international questions,

The great and general interests of peace.

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