A Nation Pauses

This is a picture essay I shot for The Athens Messenger to run on November 11, 1968. You can click on the photos to make them larger.

The caption reads, Saturday, Glouster residents paused to honor Marine Cpl. Donald A. Campbell who was awarded the Silver Star for valor in Vietnam, where he died. Today, Veterans Day, the nation pauses to honor those men who fought in all her wars.

Ceremonies were way too common

My first assignment for The Athens Messenger on Sept. 17, 1969, was a routine grip-n-grin photo of a local serviceman being awarded a bunch of medals for his service in Vietnam.

That afternoon, I went back to City Hall to watch the mayor award the Bronze Star and Purple Heart to the parents of a boy who didn’t come back. As I looked at their expressions, I wondered how much they had aged since they received that knock on their door and looked out to see a somber-faced soldier on their stoop.

The lonely ride back home with a box of medals

The image I’ve never been able to get out of my mind is the one of them walking out to their car. On their ride home, they’re going to have a box of medals sitting where their son should have been.

It was a lot easier photographing soldiers than the parents, wives and siblings left behind.

Earlier stories about Veterans and Veterans Day

Flags on Veterans Day 2016

Veterans Day flag display North County Park 11-11-2016This week, in particular, I needed to see the rows of American Flags flapping in the cool air against a blue sky punctuated with fluffy clouds. I got to North County Park just as the volunteers were starting to take the flags down before nightfall. This was taken with  Nikon D-7000 equipped with an 18-55mm zoom lens covered with a circular polarizing filter. (Click on the photo to make it larger.)

Flags in motion

A guy directing traffic made an exception for me to drive by to capture this video from the top of the hill and headed down to the highway. The video is shot with my DOD Tech DOD-LS470W dash cam. It hangs under my rearview mirror with an AmorTek SnakeMount, a cool accessory that will fit just about any camera out there.

I picked this camera because it has great low light sensitvity, it has a built-in GPS, and comes with software that will let you merge your videos with an interactive map. That’s really handy when I try to figure out where I took a picture. (I also have to confess that I put those specific links in because if you click on them, then buy something from Amazon, I get a tiny piece of the action without it costing you anything extra.)

I’m a sucker for flags

Here are other stories I’ve done about flags.

Freedom Isn’t Free

Flag decal 05-23-2015I was trying to figure out a different way to mark Memorial day when I looked to my left at the intersection of Mt. Auburn Road and North Kingshighway and spotted this Freedom Isn’t Free DAV (Disabled American Veterans) flag sticker.

That’s a nice reminder. (Click on it to make it larger.)

More welcome than this

Crash 05-06-1969I was a bit soured on flag decals during the 1960s because they were frequently paired with stickers like this one.

I feel the same way about SUVs sporting yellow ribbon magnetic stickers that say “Support Our Troops.” Slapping on a sticker is a lot easier than actually making sure our returning veterans have the medical and psychological care they need to integrate into society when they come home.

In 2014, three Republican Senators were the lone votes against a bipartisan bill to expand benefits and access to care for former troops. “We need to resist the temptation to create more entitlements and more entitlements,” Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions said.

Well, if we can’t afford to provide care for our returning vets, maybe we shouldn’t be sending them to places where they may require care.

OK, rant over. Let’s use Memorial Day to think about those men and women who gave their lives to make it possible for us to have political disagreements.

Previous stories about Veterans and memorials

 

WW II Vet Bob Fiehler

SS Robert Fiehler layoutOne of the first people I met at the Altenburg Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum was volunteer Bob Fielher. At the time, I just thought he was a nice guy who knew a lot about area history.

I wish I had recorded some of this stories. Unfortunately, Bob died of cancer in 2009, and I missed the opportunity. Over the years, I have gotten to know his son Gerard, and Gerard has done a great job of keeping his memories alive.

Gerard tells about a boy who had never been further than St. Louis, who was drafted at 18; drove a tank in the Battle of the Bulge at 19; won a Purple Heart; stayed in Germany as a translator during the Occupation, and then returned to Altenburg to work in the family garage.

“He had lived a whole lifetime …”

“He had lived a whole lifetime by the time he was 20 years old,” Gerard observed.

This is a video worth watching on Veterans Day.