Air warriors spent 90 minutes on Wednesday flying over 10 Colorado cities and towns, including Colorado Springs. The F-16s flew near hospitals in a powerful show of support for medical workers risking their lives on the front lines of a war against an invisible enemy.

Pilots with the 140th Wing of the Colorado Air National Guard provided the show as part of Operation American Resolve, in which Air Force units throughout the country flew over population centers and hospitals. The objective was to boost public morale in the midst of suffering and despair caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mission accomplished.

All over Colorado, individuals and families sprung from homes and hospitals to hear and feel the roaring jets as they raced across the sky. It should comfort and unite Americans. Our military protects every lifestyle imaginable in a diverse melting pot that guarantees freedom and opportunity for all, without regard for race, religion, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, or creed.

Although we bicker about politics and coronavirus policies on social media and during virtual cocktail hours, our military serves us all. It’s not a Republican, Democrat, liberal or conservative force. It’s not black or white or any other form of identity demographic. American forces should help us put in proper perspective the small stuff that divides us and consumes our thoughts while reminding us of the enviable lifestyles Americans enjoy.

“We hope that when our fellow citizens hear the jets fly over, they will know that we remain strong as a nation and we will get through this as one team,” said Col. Micah Fesler, commander of the 140th Wing.

“We are proud to serve alongside the first responders and essential personnel who are fighting the COVID-19 battle here in our state and we salute their service.”

All in Colorado should salute the service of essential personnel, not the least of which includes the air and ground personnel of the National Guard.

The flyover came one day after Colorado Gov. Jared Polis proudly announced President Donald Trump’s nomination of Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael Loh to serve as the next director of the Air National Guard in Washington, D.C. Loh is the adjutant general of the Colorado National Guard, so his nomination says volumes about the quality of our state’s National Guard pilots and troops.

The nomination and flyover should remind Colorado’s senators and the rest of the congressional delegation how important these forces are to our state. Politicians should prioritize acting and advocating in the National Guard’s best interests, starting with measures to upgrade the air division with F-35s — a transition essential to keeping the force.

As shown Wednesday, fighter jets are not only for war. They symbolize the doctrine of peace through strength. Peace requires the strength of social cooperation, mutual respect and gratitude.

Never have we had a better occasion to give thanks for the people serving takeout food and the gig workers who deliver it. Or to give thanks for meat-packing workers, truck drivers, and people who tend to the registers and shelves of grocery stores and other businesses too critical to close. Without their sacrifices and personal risks, the crisis would be worse by multitudes.

Beyond feeling appreciation, we should show it. Tip generously at the takeout counter or when someone delivers a meal. Say “thanks for your service” to anyone who is working. Look for neighbors who need help. Be kind.

We can’t all fly F-16s, but we all have something to give. Like the pilots, let’s show bold support and gratitude for one another. We are all in this together — no one has it easy — but we can choose to emerge as a stronger, kinder and more unified country.

The Gazette Editorial Board

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