As you enjoy your Memorial Day weekend, remember it was bought and paid for in blood. Take the time to remember what the holiday is about. Honor the brave men and women that have given their lives in service to this great nation. We are forever in their debt.
This past Saturday, volunteers with Wreaths Across America performed their annual task of placing wreaths on veterans’ graves across the country. This solemn act is a very touching and poignant gesture, honoring the brave men and women who have served this great nation in the military.
Sunday, I visited Fort Logan National Cemetery, as I do a few times a year, to pay my respects to my dad and the thousands of others who are buried on this hallowed ground. My Christmastime visits are always the most special, no doubt due to the holiday season but also due to the wreaths that have been thoughtfully placed by the headstones of our nation’s heroes.
The green of the wreaths and red of the ribbons provide a bright, colorful compliment to the gray marble, engraved with the names of those who had taken an oath in service to the country. On this morning, the quiet scene was accented by gorgeous wave clouds, colored in pastels by the rising sun, and a setting full moon to the west.
Someday I will join my shipmates here, making it my final resting place, and I will be honored to do so. Please take time this holiday season to remember those souls that have moved on, having given so much of themselves for this country.
Miss you, Pa! :'(
Of all the demonstrations at The Great Colorado Air Show last month, this was the one I was most looking forward to. The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is the United States’ latest fighter aircraft and I expected it to be impressive – and it was.
The U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team and pilot Major Kristin “Beo” Wolfe put on a heck of a show. The single-seat, single-engine aircraft was amazing to watch, feel and hear.
It is interesting to note that there are three distinct versions of the F-35 Lighting II.
The F-35A, seen here, is the Air Force version and the lightest of the bunch. The Marine Corps flies the F-35B with it having the distinct capability of short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL), allowing it to operate in a wider variety of environments and off of Navy amphibious assault ships. The F-35C is the U.S. Navy’s version, beefed up with larger, foldable wings and stronger landing gear for operations off of aircraft carriers.
Yeah, I dunno that I would be game to parachute at all, let alone do it how these men and women perform. I was pretty astounded at their shows at the Great Colorado Air Show a couple weeks ago. Both teams were quite impressive to say the least.
The Wings of Blue, the USAF Parachute Team, arrived with flags for each branch of service (Go Navy!) and Old Glory descended in all its beauty during the singing of the national anthem.
Then, the U.S. Navy Parachute Team “The Leap Frogs” , all special forces operators, performed some pretty amazing stunts including hanging upside down – way to go, shipmates!
Continuing to intermittently share my pictures from The Great Colorado Air Show a couple weeks ago. This was one of the two military aircraft I was most looking forward to seeing.
The A-10, affectionately nicknamed the Warthog, is absolutely legendary. It is a plane, quite literally, built around a gun – a beast that shoots 30mm rounds at nearly 4,000 rounds per minute. That gun and the other armament the plane can carry make it perfectly suited for its mission of providing close air support to ground troops. Titanium armor helps to protect the pilot and the essential aircraft systems from ground fire.
For the air show, the demonstration team showcased the plane’s maneuverability and demonstrated attack maneuvers like what are used in combat. These planes may not be the prettiest or the fastest but they are nothing short of incredible.
Photographer’s note: I thank you for continuing to indulge me while I share some pictures of “birds” far different from what you normally see on this page. It was a fun and challenging event photographing the planes at the air show and don’t worry, feathered birds and furry creatures will certainly continue to dominate the pictures you see here.
Being a sailor, you can of course guess how much I loved seeing these! It has been 20+ years since I last saw the Blues perform and this was a good year to do it as they transitioned to the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
Arriving at my campsite last Thursday, I was greeted by the familiar sound of roaring military power as the Blue Angels wrapped up their practice for the day. The next day I watched them practice from the campground and then Saturday and Sunday from the The Great Colorado Air Show itself.
Several hundred pictures later, I am not entirely sure which ones to share but here is a batch of my personal favorites, mainly because at least a few are uncommon views of this amazing team at work. It certainly brought back memories of my time in the service working in aviation and being on the deck of an aircraft carrier.
My thanks to my shipmates for their service and for a show well done. Bravo zulu!
Definitely not the usual type of birds I photograph but I couldn’t resist. I had long planned for this, making reservations at Boyd Lake State Park six months ago and buying tickets for the show the second they were available. Mother Nature played nice and it was a great way to wrap up our camping season watching stunt planes, parachutists and, of course, the Blue Angels. My thanks to all of the people that worked hard to make this show happen, the volunteers, and the performers. Please do it again soon!
I’ll be incommunicado this weekend while I hang out with some warthogs and hornets and watch some lightning. 😉 More pics to come on Monday.
As we close out this Memorial Day weekend, I hope everyone has taken the time to honor the brave men and women that are no longer with us. They have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to this great nation and we are forever in their debt.
In the fall of 1864, President Abraham Lincoln penned a letter to Mrs. Lydia Bixby, a widow who at the time was believed to have lost five sons in the Civil War. His words serve as a reminder of the blood that has been spilled for our freedom, the lives lost and the pain of those left behind:
Executive Mansion, Washington, Nov. 21, 1864
I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.
I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.
I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom. Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,
*Note: I am aware that some scholars now believe the letter was written by John Hay, a White House Secretary and that after the fact, it was learned Ms. Bixby “only” lost two of her five sons in battle.
I stopped by Fort Logan National Cemetery this morning to visit my dad. This is the 10th Christmas since he has been gone and in many ways it doesn’t get easier. I sat and talked to him for quite a while, shed more than a few tears.
Afterwards, I wandered the rows of headstones, contemplating all of the brave men and women that stake their final resting place on that hallowed ground. The cemetery is a beautiful and peaceful place, any time of year.
During the holidays though, it is even more special as his and many other veterans’ graves are decorated with wreaths for Christmas. The red ribbons and green pine really pop against the gray marble of the markers and provide a fresh reminder to never forget those who served this nation and are no longer with us.