Category Archives: American Flag

On the first day of June …

I went to my favorite place … Little Stoney Falls.  Once I got there, however, the parking space was full of cars.  I was in no mood to share MY falls with all these people, so I simply turned around and moved on.

I took the long way around to get there to begin with, for what better way to spend this magnificent day than driving around with the convertible top down and the music playing?  From there, I took the long way around again and wound up in Coeburn, taking the turn for Flag Rock and the High Knob tower.

I lost myself in thoughts and dreams as I drove up the curvy, winding mountain road.  It was one of those perfect days where the sky is blue, the clouds are white, the weather is warm and the light is magnificent.

While I did stop at Flag Rock and was bewitched by the beauty of the mountains, the blooming rhododendron and the sheer beauty of creation, I bypassed the High Knob tower.

There is no longer a tower there and the trees had grown up the last time I visited making the view nearly nonexistent.

I just kept driving.

Over the mountain.

The dirt road in front of me, the dirt road in back of me, the forest on either side and the incredible sky above.

At some point, I did get behind another car and found myself, once it was said and done, covered with a layer of dust.

Small price to pay for driving along with the top down and all of nature surrounding me, filling my head with dreams and images; I was in another place for that space of time.

I ended the day with a stop by the cemetery to talk to Jim about this, that and the other thing.  It seems that my visits there over the past few weeks have done wonders to balance my spirit.

I have things to say and no one, in particular, to say them to.  I talk to the sky, the wind, the grass, the birds … and I talk to him.  Nobody knew me the way he did.  I doubt anyone ever will again.

But that is neither here nor there.

It was a lovely day and I am grateful.





When I think of Memorial Day …

I think of my dad, specifically his dog tags and the photograph of him in his Air Force uniform.  So young, so very young.  So handsome and full of possibilities, hopes, dreams and wishes.

I can’t really explain it, but each time I look at it, I want, more than anything else, to weep … for  him, for others, for things I don’t understand.  And many times I have done just that.

Wept like there would be no tomorrow.

I think of the privileges I am afforded and how many of them were dependent upon men and women like him.

I think of Mr. Salley, who fought on the beaches of Normandy, France.  He, who, with tears in his aged eyes, told me his story.  It was horrific, the things he related … the tragedies, the loss, the hurt and the fears that he faced and then, through the sheer necessity to survive, overcame as best he could.

But the memories remained, always remained, forever haunting him.  I know this because he told me so.

The death he saw, felt and experienced …

The pain and anguish of each tear that fell from his old and wizened eyes struck me with devastating clarity.  I cried, unashamedly, with him as it broke my heart to hear it.

But I needed to hear it.  Needed to feel it.  Needed to understand the depth of the sacrifice.

I was, in that single moment, forever changed.

He revisited Normandy a few years back and brought me some sand from the beach on which he fought.

I am thankful beyond measure that I had the chance to hear his story and know the man behind the memories before he passed away.

The sand is one of my most treasured possessions.

That and my dad’s dog tags.

I would give up every photograph I have ever taken, every sunrise I’ve ever witnessed, every mountain peak on which I have ever stood simply to keep these two things in my possession.

I remember my friends who have served, who still serve.  Who risk everything they hold dear for strangers; faces they will never see.

It never ceases to amaze me how much people are willing to sacrifice for their country, their loved ones, their way of life, our future and the freedoms that we so blithely take for granted.

I remember them as Memorial Day looms in the next few hours.  I remember their faces, their smile, their laughter, their stories.

I remember their pride in what they have had a part in preserving and again, the memories they carry within themselves.

Memories no one should have to relive; burdens no one should have to carry.

It shames me to think that I too often forget to remember them.  I will try harder.

They gave everything so that we could have the one, most wonderful thing there ever was to have.


God Bless America.