May 31, 2010
Went out with my camera this morning into a hard rain. A road race broke out. I became the race photographer. I guess I was dressed for it.
The race was the inaugural Run 4 (miles) Memorial Day here in Eugene, Oregon. The Stars and Stripes rippled in the wind and rain, as if in blessing to the gathered faithful.
I met a couple of Vietnam vets who were there for the run — to “represent,” one of them told me with a grin. We talked about the weather, how the hedgerows were electric green in the downpour. I heard subtext in the rain talk, sensed it was a memory of jungle and youth. The far-off looks told me that memory is where you find it.
After a moment or two they asked me where I served. Might have been my new haircut. Told ’em I didn’t. Told ’em that rectitude is hard to come by, even now. “Fuckin’ A,” one of them said, nodding in the direction of the hedgerows. “Semper Fi,” said the other, looking right at me. “Not me,” I said, “I don’t deserve that. Didn’t earn it.” He looked steady at me. Not sure, even now, what he saw. “I reckon you do,” said he. “Thank you for what you guys did back then,” is what I said. “And what you do now.”
The starter’s gun went off, the pictures got taken, the runners passed us by. Later in the day the sun came out; the world here dried off and sparkled into the twilight. The air was filled with barbeque and laughter and the occasional silence of a drifting memory happening in the midst of celebration.
“Hope is a belief in positive outcome” Vince Alongi @ Flickr.com. Creative Commons. Some Rights Reserved.