I stopped by Fort Logan National Cemetery today to visit my dad and pay my respects to him and many others interred at this sacred place. Remember those who have served this great nation and are no longer with their families this season. Miss you, Pa!
Not the usual type of bird I photograph but some that are pretty darned special. The Royal Air Force Red Arrows are on a tour of North America and made a stop in the Mile High City Monday and Tuesday.
We, unfortunately, didn’t get a full airshow however our friends from across the pond did do a series of flybys showcasing their incredible, precision flying and beautiful formations.
The Red Arrows are Britain’s equivalent to our Navy Blue Angels or Air Force Thunderbirds. They fly an upgraded version of the BAE Systems Hawk, a two-seat, high performance training jet.
The flight of nine took advantage of a gorgeous late summer day and it was a treat to be able to see these visitors from our nation’s greatest ally.
Today’s 75th anniversary of D-Day had me harkening back to this event in 1995 when I was honored to have been part of an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II.
The USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and its air wing were tasked with taking part in the ceremonies at Pearl Harbor. As part of that, we transported a number of old warbirds, some of which had seen service during WWII.
Best of all, when we arrived on station off the coast of Hawaii, the vintage planes took off from the deck of the carrier! To my knowledge, this was the only such event that has done this – it was extraordinary!
The pics are scans from old negatives and need some work but I wanted to post them today given the significance of the date.
Our nation is truly blessed and it is humbling to consider what the Greatest Generation accomplished.
I would normally visit Fort Logan National Cemetery today but it wasn’t quite in the cards this year. Nevertheless, I made sure to respect the true meaning of Memorial Day and instead visited the Thornton Veterans Memorial.
From the memorial for the fallen to the names on the bricks that pave the walkways to ‘Grace’ releasing a dove, it is a beautiful place to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to this great nation. We shall never forget!
“And they who for their country die shall fill an honored grave, for glory lights the soldier’s tomb, and beauty weeps the brave.” ~Joseph Drake
Not the usual type of “bird” you see me photograph, eh?
Wildfires are an unfortunate fact of life in the west during the summer and the brave men and women that battle the blazes have to hone their skills before they join the fight. In recent days, the military has been practicing at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. The UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters were picking up water from one lake and then dropping it near another.
Having served many years in the Navy on an aircraft carrier, aviation and military photography doesn’t normally appeal to me but as those years move further into the past, I have to admit once again getting a bit excited seeing them in action.
I flew on a number of different military planes and helicopters, including once on an SH-60, the Navy’s variant of the Blackhawk, dubbed the Seahawk. Truly an impressive aircraft.
I stopped by Fort Logan National Cemetery this past weekend to visit my dad and a few other of our nation’s heroes. He – and all of them – are sorely missed and the holidays aren’t quite the same without them.
Wreaths Across America and hundreds of volunteers place wreaths at thousands of graves at Fort Logan and other national cemeteries across the nation before Christmas each year. This very special program’s mission is to, “Remember our fallen U.S. veterans. Honor those who serve. Teach your children the value of freedom.”
The hallowed ground of these cemeteries are transformed into a beautiful and respectful scene, fitting for the holidays. For families like mine, who have loved ones interred there, it is a meaningful and emotional thing to see.
We sponsor the wreath for my dad’s site and some random others and next year, I would encourage you to do the same. Please, honor those who served and are no longer with us and say a prayer for them and their families during this blessed season.
Happy Veterans Day to all who have served.
If you spend much time on the backroads of the Great Plains, you probably have come across these unusual facilities scattered around. I suppose many folks that go by them don’t even give them a second thought but if they did, it might make them pause as the reality of them sets in.
These are Minuteman III missile silos in Logan County, Colorado, some of 450 scattered across the central United States. Each missile carries a warhead capable of creating up to a 350 kiloton blast. For comparison, the bomb we dropped on Hiroshima had a 15 kiloton yield and the one on Nagasaki a 20 kiloton yield.
As a someone that grew up at the height of the Cold War when the fear of their use was at its greatest (other than during the Cuban Missile Crisis), I well remember reading about and preparing for the potential aftermath if man should unleash them.
The threat may have diminished since then but they are still there, sleeping, but ready. Always ready. A sobering thought. I don’t share these images because they are particularly photographic – I just find what they show fascinating and perhaps a bit scary in a way.
On Saturday I stopped by Fort Logan National Cemetery to pay my respects to my dad and the thousands of other heroes that have served this great nation and are laid to rest there.
Memorial Day is, of course, not a day for all of those interred there. This most auspicious holiday is for honoring those who gave the last full measure of devotion, sacrificing their lives in service to this nation. Going there is always an emotional and humbling experience. This scene made it more so.
A man stood, motionless, staring down at one of the markers, deep in his thoughts. Was it a father? A brother? A fallen shipmate? No matter who it was, he was far more than just a marble stone. He was one of the few that had the courage to put on that uniform and stand the line against those that would harm this nation.
Our nation owes an unpayable debt of gratitude to them and their families. Take time to remember them today and give thanks for what they have done.
Years ago I had a blog where I shared my thoughts on a number of topics, the military and veterans being prominent features. I was going through that site today and came across this posting from Veterans Day 2009. It seems to fit as well now as it did then and want to re-share it here.
Why say thank you on Veterans Day?
We set aside Veterans Day to say ‘thank you’ to our veterans for their service and for the sacrifices they have made for us and our great nation. Sometimes though, we forget exactly what veterans have done to deserve these thanks.
Veterans have served in God-forsaken hellholes from one end of the earth to the other. They have roasted in 120+ degree heat in the Middle East, been drenched by unending rain in the jungles of Vietnam, and suffered frostbite in the bitter cold of the Ardennes Forest.
They have stood in lines dozens deep to eat, to see a doctor and even to use the bathroom. They have labored for days with little or no sleep. Men and women have launched dozens of bomb-laden aircraft from the deck of aircraft carriers in a matter of hours, stood watch over the DMZ in Korea where a state of war still exists and fought bloody battles for their very lives that lasted for days.
Sailors go months without seeing land, longing for the simple pleasure of setting foot on solid ground again.
Airmen load bombs well-aware of the harm they may cause but comforted by the knowledge their cause is just.
Soldiers spend weeks on missions where their only hot meal is an MRE eaten from their helmet, longing for some of their wife’s home cooking.
Coastguardsmen stand watch from the deck of a ship protecting a homeland unaware of the dangers lurking offshore.
Marines assault a beachhead running for their lives while watching their friends fall around them.
Veterans have been separated from their friends and families for weeks, months and years. They have missed birthdays, anniversaries, and the birth of their own children. They have missed Christmas, the 4th of July, football games and even Veterans Day.
Our veterans have called home from a far off land and heard about the broken washer and the car that won’t start and been helpless to help their loved ones back home. They have gotten the Red Cross message telling them about their dad dying unexpectedly and felt the anguish of having to choose between going home to honor him or staying in the field to fight with their comrades. They have received ‘Dear John’ letters while on the other side of the world, crushing the one piece of home they were clinging to.
Veterans have returned home to a country which is foreign to them, a place that has seemingly moved on while they were stuck in time. They have found children that hardly recognize them, spouses that grew accustomed to them not being around and friends and family that don’t understand them and cannot fathom what they have seen and done.
Some have returned home to tickertape parades and adoring crowds. Others returned home only to be spat on and called despicable names. Many return to no acknowledgement of what they have accomplished, no one there to simply say ‘welcome home.’
Veterans have struggled to return to a normal life, not even knowing what ‘normal’ is anymore. Veterans throw themselves into their new lives with the same sense of honor, pride and dedication they served the country with. Others still stand on a street corner and sleep under a bridge just looking for a helping hand while battling the demons that haunt their minds. They go to Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts across the country in an effort to recapture some of the comradeship that was lost when they left the service.
They bear the scars of their service, some visible, some not.
They have prosthetic legs to replace the ones blown off by an IED and a six inch scar across their belly where a German knife was plunged into it. Some walk with a limp from a shattered ankle, can’t move an arm that is paralyzed or struggle to hear their grandchildren because of a bomb that exploded next to them ruining their hearing.
Veterans stand at attention and cry when the Star Spangled Banner is played, knowing the words by heart and the true meaning behind them. Others though cannot watch fireworks on the 4th of July because the sight and sound frightens them and brings back memories they fight to bury and forget.
They break down when remembering holding their friend as he gasped his last breath on the battlefield. They pray to God asking that He just make the images of the horrors they witnessed go away but knowing that they will return when they close their eyes.
When you think about what you are saying ‘thank you’ for, perhaps just think about some of these things that our veterans have done. That simple act of saying ‘thank you’ takes on renewed meaning for you and will mean more to a veteran than he can ever say.
God bless you all, God bless the United States of America and God bless our veterans!