Travelling is good for the soul because you learn about yourself and aspects of history. The long flights to other continents give us time to be thankful for what we have and who we are. It also gives a time to reflect on the skills of others and how others look after your well-being.
I am loving every minute of my trip to America despite the fact that we have just had a week of the Coachella bug which is a lot like flu. Feeling a bit stronger yesterday, we went down to the airport at Palm Springs. It is a very busy airport that retains a very cosy atmosphere and has a constant flow of arrivals and departures. Outside the nearby Palm Springs City Hall is a bust of J. F. Kennedy and there are other statues remembering former stalwarts of the city or famous visitors. For example, Sonny Bono was the mayor of the town for four years. He has a bronze statue in the centre of town. Little did I know when I first saw Sonny and Cher that I would visit the town where Sonny became mayor.

Right next door to the airport is the Air Museum and I wasn't too sure what I would discover on my visit there. Outside the buildings there are several aeroplanes which you would obviously expect at such a venue. The planes were coming and going at the neighbouring airport throughout the time we were there. There is something very special about being so close to the planes. The noise was quite deafening at times.

We paid to gain admission and a member of staff put a band on my wrist to enable access to all areas. The first choice I had to make was to visit either the Pacific Hangar or visit the European Hangar. I chose to visit the Pacific Hangar as I have a good understanding of European history. What I found in the Pacific Hangar was a huge gap in my education. Of course, I was aware of the struggles between Japan, China and Russia around the 1900-1917 years. The might of Japan and its empire and the ferocity of its fighting power seems quite absurd when you look at the geographical differences in size between these powers. Japan is closer in size to the United Kingdom and if you compare the size of the United Kingdom with the vast areas which are China and Russia it seems unbelievable that Japan could be so powerful. To add to the occasion the hangar had a massive picture of the Pacific Ocean on its walls and I just stood, mouth agape, looking at the vastness of this mass of water.

It is no wonder America didn't fully join the European theatre of combat until after Pearl Harbour. The logistics of trying to keep the ferocious Japanese at bay were difficult enough. Japan's leaders thought the Americans would be as easy as the Chinese and Russians had been and didn't realise how Pearl Harbour would galvanise the might of the US armed forces. Bearing in mind that the Americans had been providing cover for the British food convoys in the Atlantic against the threat of the German submarines it is wrong to underestimate the endeavours of the American forces. I found myself thinking much more about the struggles on either side of the Atlantic and how little we really learned about the horrors of the Pacific theatre of war.

I got involved in a very interesting discussion with a former member of the American forces. I have been in company with British people who have been under the impression that the Americans only joined in with the British near the end of the war. The facts are very different. America had many problems in the Pacific and the cost was immense. They also then contributed to the European theatre with their wonderful efforts that helped to keep the world free. I asked this gentleman why he thought America was fighting now in Afghanistan where wars are never seemingly won. He told me that it is better to be fighting these terrorists in Afghanistan than having to fight them in America. I find myself often bewildered as to why we must always have these wars in far-flung corners of the earth.

What started as a touristic visit to an Air Museum got me thinking far more about the horrors of the World Wars and how much the American nation has helped us retain the freedoms we enjoy.Of course, it would be very easy to just visit the technology and marvel at the planes but I hate war and can think of nothing worse than seeing people maimed and killed by warfare technology.I think these places can certainly make people more aware of what our forefathers have done for us and can bring people from differing nations closer to each other.I would have finished on one of the flight simulators but the guy running the show was sneezing like crazy and we beat a hasty retreat!

Author's Bio: 

Vince is a teacher and broadcaster who is now involved in podcasting on the Internet. He has a B:A: in Recreation and the Community and a B.Phil (Ed) in the Philosophy in Education