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Memorial Day is always a special one for me. In fact I consider it the most precious of the "secular" government declared holidays. It is for me as spiritual and soul-moving as Christmas and Easter (sans Santa and the Bunny). Yesterday I was able, through the gift of my travels and cameras, to have a solemn remembrance and reflection at Omaha Beach and some of the other Normandy beaches. Particularly moving is the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. On June 8, 1944, two days after the landing, the U.S. 1st Army established the temporary cemetery, the first American cemetery on European soil in World War II. After the war, the present-day cemetery was established a short distance to the east of the original site. Like all other overseas American cemeteries in France for World War I and II, France has granted the United States a special, perpetual concession to the land occupied by the cemetery, free of any charge or any tax. This cemetery is managed by the American government, under Congressional acts that provide yearly financial support for maintaining them. The U.S. flag flies over these granted soils. From this view, I am at a loss for words at the thought of human carnage and death that colored this sand and water red seventy-two years ago. As the clouds parted on an impossibly heavy overcast day, and this rainbow shone, I am reminded that good does conquer evil in the end. Thank you to everyone and their families who sacrificed on these beaches to bring peace to Europe and the world. Thanks to all who sacrificed through the ages and continue to do so to this very day, to keep our nation and way of life free and alive!
There are days and then there are dog days. This beautiful Standard Poodle and I have been friends for over ten years. He is also a client. Romeo was the first "child" of some friends of mine. The lone recipient of his parents' attention and affection for many years, Romeo inevitably faced what many dogs do in life - the arrival of a child. When the first born came into the world it was time for another photo session. Alas, Romeo would be relegated to a somewhat smaller role in the session even though he towered over the newborn. I spread a black sheet on the floor of my clients' bedroom to create a simple contrasting background for B&W images of the precious newborn. While she was being changed, the unexpected moment presented itself. Looking around as I am prone to do as a visual artist (and I was prone myself) I noticed my friend Romeo peacefully if not somewhat sadly taking in all the action from my level close by. In an instant, I created one of my favorite and most lasting images of the beloved canine (Canis lupus familiaris to be exact). You can see into his soul and sense I feel, a bit of longing and sadness in his eyes. He would no longer be the one and only, however, out of all the photos I have done for the family (now 2 young girls strong), this photo of Romeo is the largest in the house and enjoys a very prominent spot.
What a blessing to be able to live a life where you never really "work", using your gifts to bring joy and good to others and all the while sustain your own living. The Bible says "Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them" (Romans 12:6). This passed weekend was a joyful recurrence of one of the most amazing events I have ever been witness to. The Colorado Youth at Risk launch course. This is the "kick off" if you will, to a new year and new community for this wonderful organization. Colorado Youth at Risk empowers teenage students to make life choices that positively impact their future through community-based mentoring and intensive training. Colorado Youth at Risk (CYAR) aims to reduce the number of high school dropouts, match students with an adult mentor and provide students with a sense of the future and their place in that future.
What "lights you up"? For me it is photography. And working with these young people. I have been blessed to parlay my passion and gift for photography into a means to make a living. I photograph, as my brother once said to me, "All that is good in life. Weddings, children, events, live music, food, parties..." He went on to say, "what you create, people put on their walls. No one hangs their tax returns on the wall". That conversation, opened my eyes even wider.
I am also passionate about our young people. Particularly the young people CYAR serves. I have worn many hats with this organization - mentor, group leader.. Last weekend provided me the opportunity to use my God given gifts to witness - and with my camera - bring permanence to that witness, for all involved or who may want to be involved. To visually share what transpires and more importantly, what transforms, all who are present during this weekend and subsequent year(s). Please enjoy a few moments from this special time and look into how you can contribute to this incredible organization. The "trust fall" or "freedom fall" Look at the all the things that the young people said they are up against.