I used to think that Bradley International Airport was kind of a funny name. Not the Bradley part – the International part.
But Bradley International has gotten more international over the years. And I like the idea that the airport is named after a regular guy, Army Air Corps Lt. Eugene M. Bradley, who died there on a training flight in 1941, when it was a military airbase.
Bradley’s widow, Anna Martens, said it best in 1981, when there was a move afoot to rename the airport after the late Gov. Ella T. Grasso.
”I think Governor Grasso was a fine, fine woman,” she told the New York Times, ”but those fighter pilots started that place. Many of those boys went to war and died. Gene represents them.”
I think that’s right. I think that’s fitting.
Plenty of commercial airports are named after the military bases that preceded them, and those bases were usually named after a fallen aviator from the World War II era or earlier. Now that those veterans are fading into history, we seem to want to forget them.
Used to be the trend was to rename airports after politicians: George Bush Intercontinental / Houston, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Montreal-Trudeau. Now it seems to be more about marketing the destination.
Earlier this week, Williams Gateway Airport in Mesa, Ariz., originally named after Lt. Charles Linton Williams, was renamed Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. A terminal building was renamed after Williams.
Just my two cents, but I’d rather keep Bradley named after Eugene M. Bradley, the whole airport, not just a building. He represents the brave aviators of the World War II era, and he represents the wonderful American tradition of honoring the honorable above the powerful.