Friday, June 3, 2011

Afghanistan Through My Eyes-Fenty

Walking around the base I am always looking for a standout photo. Not being a photographer I usually miss the 'Amazing' cover story photos...sometimes because I don't want to be in any one's face. Being in a combat zone is hard enough and I think having someone taking your picture to capitalize on it without your permission is rude.

I walked up and down Fenty a lot. I was living down in 8 mile, no man's land. But still I found something I thought was interesting.

What you are looking at is a birds nest made in the air tower with a Queen of Clubs from a card deck. The significance of this is the 101st Airborne who left while I was there were 'the clubs'. How this card got up there, at least 30 ft. high, I'll never know.

This is an old abandoned bathroom in the middle of the base. Probably passed a thousand times a day with no one paying any attention, but I though the mottled paint and colors were really pretty.

Having gone through tough times and hardship in my life I try and find the beauty everywhere. It's there, sometimes it can be as simple as the blue sky or the breath you just inhaled or the sound of reveille.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The First Memorial Day

But for the earliest and most remarkable Memorial Day, we must return to where the war began. By the spring of 1865, after a long siege and prolonged bombardment, the beautiful port city of Charleston, S.C., lay in ruin and occupied by Union troops. Among the first soldiers to enter and march up Meeting Street singing liberation songs was the 21st United States Colored Infantry; their commander accepted the city's official surrender. Whites had largely abandoned the city, but thousands of blacks, mostly former slaves, had remained, and they conducted a series of commemorations to declare their sense of the meaning of the war. 

Then came black men marching in cadence, followed by contingents of Union infantrymen. Within the cemetery enclosure a black children's choir sang "We'll Rally Around the Flag," the "Star-Spangled Banner" and spirituals before a series of black ministers read from the Bible. After the dedication the crowd dispersed into the infield and did what many of us do on Memorial Day: enjoyed picnics, listened to speeches and watched soldiers drill. 

Among the full brigade of Union infantrymen participating were the famous 54th Massachusetts and the 34th and 104th United States Colored Troops, who performed a special double-columned march around the gravesite. The war was over, and Memorial Day had been founded by African-Americans in a ritual of remembrance and consecration. The war, they had boldly announced, had been about the triumph of their emancipation over a slaveholders' republic. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

I was at the Gorge in George, Washington for Sasquatch Festival during Memorial Day. I was struck by the fact that none of the people there seemed to remember it was Memorial Day. In fact the opposite was true. During the Bright Eyes performance the lead singer, Conor Oberst made a personal point of talking about his pacifism and how horrified he was at the murder of Osama Bin Laden. The young crowd whistled and agreed...or did they?

I was standing next to a music reviewer and he asked me not knowing that I had just returned from Afghanistan what I thought about his statement. I told him I don't appreciate performers using an entertainment venue to make their personal opinion of a political nature. I'm there to be entertained. I also added I thought Oberst's statement was a sign of immaturity. The reviewer agreed.

The philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote, "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

What did you do this Memorial Day?