Ok, so maybe I'm a bit cynical about Festivals of War, even if the war's been over for a long time, but I come by that cynicism honestly. My dad fought two tours with the U.S. Army in Vietnam, and he came back with the view of patriotic wars that can only be earned by that kind of fighting. He passed on to me a certainty that war is never the answer, and that anything that celebrates war contributes to making it seem normal, as if it is a reasonable choice. Like a cookie or a cigarette, if war is on the table, we'll take it; don't put it on the table in the first place. As for all this star-spangled celebrating, sure, it's about a song and a flag, but it's also about the war that both made those things, and needs those things. And yet even I couldn't deny the visceral pleasure of seeing those Blue Angels planes zipping through the sky, my head cocked up, following the sounds. Those are the sounds of war, but as my dad—the pacifist—reminded me, they are the sounds of rescue from war as much as they are war machines themselves; for him, the plane was always a sign that the current hell he was in was about to end. It's complicated.