This video Returning a Sound, by Puerto Rico-based conceptual artists Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla was filmed in the Puerto Rican isle of Vieques. After the closure of the U.S. base in 2003, the artists attached a trumpet to the exhaust of a moped and drove round the island capturing its triumphant "reveille."
Though I am not an activist, this piece influenced my thinking about jet noise: the sound of freedom. Having lived on an island, home to a U.S. military base all my life, and being a trumpet player middle through high school, I can appreciate the creativity of Returning a Sound. When I saw this piece, for the first time I thought about what our iconic sound of freedom meant to other people, in other countries, without our same freedoms. I was blown away of the horrific implications. That was over 10 years ago.
I have seen angry letters to the editor in the newspaper and protests on the side of Highway 20 out side of Coupeville near the Navy's Out Lying Field. The sound of freedom has divided people on our own island. As a filmmaker, I am about community building. Instead of protesting the sound of freedom, in turn, Returning a Sound, made me think to tune my ear to appreciate all the other "sounds of freedom" there are including: dogs barking, wind chimes, music, the sails of a sailboat, moped exhaust and trumpets included. These sounds can both be appreciated and despised depending on a person's perspective.
It is my hope with my series Sounds of Freedom, where I profile a sound and its evolving meaning of freedom to a character every episode, that people will appreciate all the various celebrations of freedom and life that the military protects for us as Americans.
For example, in the pilot episode in Sounds of Freedom, I profile Don, the newspaper delivery man's sound. It's the sound of the thump of a newspaper on a door as he delivers the news to residents.
My Sounds of Freedom is not about the sound of freedom. Jet noise only serves as the back drop to a story of coming home. It is about sounds of life. With the culmination of episodes into a symphony of sounds, I'm "returning sounds" by celebrating the music of life.
This is my patriotism as an American.