Archive for May, 2013

Memorial Day

It was a weekend road trip, just three friends on a four-day junket to Washington DC to shoot pictures of old soldiers visiting the various memorials on the National Mall. My old friend Larry McDonald is the photographer in the bunch; I usually just haul the extra equipment so he can be free to shoot.

They come by the thousands, most of them gray-haired, some in wheelchairs, some on prosthetic legs, walking a bit like Robert Duvall, most of them accompanied by younger family or other veterans. Almost without exception they slow to a stop when they draw near to whichever memorial conjures their own past. They get quiet, solemn, deliberate. Reverent. You don’t have to talk to very many veterans to know that what affects them is not the memory of horror and misery and fear, nor the genuine love of God and country. It’s not even personal cost; these men wear their scars like medals. What haunts them is the name of a buddy on the Vietnam Wall, a face embedded ghostlike in the ebony of the…