The Red Arrows are the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team flying team. Officially founded in 1965, they are widely regarded as the most skilled military aerobatics team in the world. Their motto is Éclat. They have performed in 52 countries and at more than 4,000 events worldwide.
We have just heard that they may be "banned from appearing at the 2012 London Olympics because they are deemed 'too British' and their military background might be 'offensive' to other countries taking part in the Games”.
The Red Arrows dispute the story. What is not disputable is that the RAF has a remarkable record of coming to the aid of people in trouble.
Aside from its assistance in liberating Europe in World War II, the RAF also flew supplies to West Berliners for eleven months in 1945-6 to keep them from falling victim to the Soviet Union's tyranny; helped to free Kuwait from the armies of Saddam Hussein in 1990; helped to free the Afghanistan people from the Taliban in 2001; and brought disaster relief to South East Asia after the earthquake and tsunami in 2003-04.
We have just learned that the Poles are burying the recently identified remains of the RAF crew which flew to Poland with weapons and medical supplies in 1944 to help the people of Warsaw in their desperate struggle against the Nazis.
The use of military force to protect innocent people and freedom is a reality in our lifetime. Why people would wish to pretend otherwise is beyond me. In my estimation, to salute the Red Arrows is to salute the RAF and the sacrifices that the few have made for many of us. Some may believe the proper venue for doing this is not the Olympics Games. The citizens of countries freed of despots may feel otherwise.
Those who would like to see the Red Arrows flying above London in 2012 can sign the petition to the Prime Minister here.
Update: Peter Stewart first alerted us to the petition, and he remains very concerned that the Red Arrows will be excluded from the London Olympics.