• The Marine Corps Toys For Tots program is still without a warehouse to receive and distribute holiday gifts for the children. Does someone out there have a warehouse to donate from now through January for this worthy cause?
  • Miss Hilda, our prolific gift basket maker extraordinaire, is out of baskets to fill! If you have any lying around waiting for a good cause, donate them to MOTS, Hilda will bring them to life and make them useful again!
  • Jerry Koontz dropped by today! Thank you for bringing the books and the donations, Jerry!
  • Several years ago Wounded Warriors sent me to a writing retreat on storytelling.
I have written quite a lot in the last few years and much of it has been about being a soldier's mother.
I've decided to share one here. And
I invite you to share your military stories here also. Be it an essay or poem or prose, here is a place to share!
Photograph by Linda Craig 

Every photograph is a moment, captured and recorded in a physical state. It alludes to a story that may evoke a reaction or a connection. But a photograph cannot stand alone. It may be the jumping off point for a story, but the story still needs someone to tell it. It needs an interpreter, a witness or at least some scribbled facts written on the back of the slick photo paper to truly express and expand the essence of that moment in time.
Soldiers have many stories and in this day and age with cell phone technology, photos can be sent home instantly from the front. As mothers who receive photos on the computer we don't just gaze at the photo. We drink in the image, and try to imagine what that moment was really like for our child. Our minds process the background, the clothing, and the people in it. But we are still thirsty for more. We stare at the picture. We wish it could speak. We want the story behind it. And ideally we want to hear it from them when they're back safe on home turf.

A perfectly composed and focused photograph of my son, an Army infantryman, is enlarged and on display in the lobby where I work. 
Leaning prone against a berm where he has placed cream colored fabric on the hard packed ground to act as a clean work surface, he stares hard, straight through the camera. 
There's a drab green scarf tied around his face to protect him from heat and sweat so all you really see are two eyes and the long slope of his nose. Unless you were his own mother you might be hard-pressed to know who it was without looking closely at the name tag velcroed onto his Army camo. 
Quite often men or young boys will look at the picture and ask me "what kind of gun is he using there?" I'm no help at all in answering that question, but it usually ends up being declared "a modified sniper set-up" and I just smile and nod. 
Women usually connect first with his eyes and say," It looks like he's really handsome, from what I can see of him!" 
"He really is!"I say.
Laid out on his makeshift tablecloth is a small Army sniper manual, the ever-present water bottle stored upside down behind a velcroed pack against his chest, with his rifle cradled loosely into his ribs. Wires are draped over his right shoulder, some kind of communication device.
Sporting black gloves and a fancy watch that does much more than tell time, he fits the word "sniper" to a "T."
The photo is so well composed that it looks like it could have just been published in this month's National Geographic. 
When my son finally returned from that 15 month deployment he told me the whole story, as he had experienced it, the story behind the photo. 
That particular day in Iraq he had been laying on a berm in searing heat, temperatures up to 110 degrees, for at least 5 hours. He had a spotter to his left on the berm and they had a target they were watching, several football fields away. It was a waiting game, and they were in their frozen positions. Armed and ready, they waited. And they waited. And they measured wind currents, curvature of the earth and temperature over and over while keeping the enemy in sight. And they sweated and they waited.
Suddenly my son was tackled by the spotter on his left. They both ducked farther behind the berm and came to a stop in a heap. "What the hell, man?" He shouted.
"They had you in their sights, there was a red bead on your helmet, bro."
Andrew didn't miss a beat. He yelled to one of his men, "Come and get a picture of me. I want to show my mom what a bad ass I am!"
That photograph was but a snippet of stolen time with frozen details. It visually placed my son in a war zone with other soldiers but it didn't convey the whole story. 

A photograph can't stand alone.
It needs text or verbiage to create context and meaning.

It needs a story teller.
  • School supplies should be ready for pick up on Friday! My number is 941-792-0748. I will be there by noon. 4301-32nd St West Suite C20, Bradenton, Fl.

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