It's been a good ride so far!

Since I was just a kid all I have ever wanted to do was to make people laugh or just smile. As a child, an educator sent a note home to my parents. It read; If your son thinks he is going to get through life making people laugh he is in for a RUDE AWAKENING! He is not living up to his potential. WELL, I'M STILL NOT! But at this site you will at least see me try. From the heart, thank you for even being interested, it means the world to me. I always say, I have not a single fan but many a friend!



Thursday, September 12, 2013

A long time coming

Yeah, yeah, yeah.... so I did it once again, I dropped off the face of the earth with regard to this blog and pretty much most social media for a while now.  The social media wasn't really my fault, FB in it's "big brother" capacity changed a setting on my page that everything I posted could only seen by me... that makes a whole hell of a lot of sense doesn't it?  This happened all the way back in the beginning of June and I only found out about it two weeks or so ago.  Now, with regard to the blog there is no excuse that I can make, I just flat out stopped writing.  I had a complete and total loss of inspiration, motivation and quite frankly, copulation!  If it weren't for the "where the fuck are you" and "is everything okay" messages I would have forgotten about the blog entirely.  I thank you all for caring enough to actually miss me.

So you must be thinking "but you are on here now, your are posting this", so what gives?  Today I found inspiration again and I found it under the worst possible circumstances.  I found it today in the Healing Fields of Tempe, Arizona.  The Healing Fields are located at Tempe Town Lake and it is a beautiful and serene setting just a hop, skip and jump from Arizona State University at the end of a long strip of bars and restaurants exactly like most college towns have.  Only for a few days a year, this property turns into a massive and I do mean massive memorial so that we never forget the events of 9/11 and those who lost their lives that day and the friends and families that they left behind, the survivors of the attack on our nation, on our way of life....  Today was the second time that I attended this event as I only found out about it last year for the first time.

I think what opened up my mind and my heart more than ever this year was that I was exhausted and I never went to sleep last night.  I had the alarm set for four am so that I could get the bike up and ready and waiting on the driveway so that I could hop on and ride away when my friends arrived.  At twenty minutes to four I rolled over and turned the alarm clock off, sleeping was not an option on this night.  My friends arrived promptly and we took off for the meet.  To say that I was disappointed with the turn out would be an understatement for sure.  As we pulled out to ride to the Healing Fields, we had only 50 bikes or so.  Here is a shot of the now legendary Pickle Sickle at 5 am waiting to take off on the ride.  When we finally did take off it was a mad dash right from the get go.  Blocking traffic, running lights and all the other mayhem that happens when you put a bunch of bikers together with a destination to get to.  We only made it to the second or third traffic light and had already pissed off the police!  When they put on their lights and sirens to stop us and no one stopped, they just gave in and gave us an escort to the lake!

and here is a shot of the Pickle at dawn, a short time before the sun came up.  There is something so beautiful about dawn in the desert that you could just sit in the saddle and stare up at the sky.  There is a combination of beautiful blue light but yet you can still make out the stars.  If you ever have the chance to experience this, I highly recommend that you do.

As mother nature was making a show of things and the night was becoming day I turned to make out a rather large group of people on the grassy knoll 200 feet away.  With each passing second the light was getting brighter and the group becoming more visible and as I finally made out just who the group was, I knew that I was in the right place at the right time!  Here is a shot of the fine folks on that grassy knoll this morning, 9/11.
 As I said, with each passing moment, night was leaving and the anniversary of the attacks on America was rapidly approaching and with it came the light.  As I made the walk towards the group I shot photo after photo and by the time I finally made it to them, dawn had let all of Az know that it had arrived and what a sight it was.
 Much to my bloodshot eyes pleasant surprise was a shit ton of America's finest men and women standing proudly on that knoll!  On the other side of the tree to the left was the mirror image of what you see here!  God bless The American Soldier!
We all slowly and at our own pace made our way towards the stage where the ceremony was to take place.  Oddly enough, it seems as if there is an unwritten rule that you "don't walk in the field between the flags until after the ceremony ends" and no one did!  When you first see the flags placed perfectly in laser straight lines the exact distance from each other in every direction it hits you straight in the heart.  The time, effort and caring that went in to making this dead on balls accurate was quite visible in an instant.  The sorrow that you feel begins to give way to pride again and it feels good. Below is the very first sight you see as you walk into the park and because of the natural light, you can't see the end in any direction, nothing but OLD GLORY.  What was particularly solemn this morning was that not one single flag moved, as if they too were waiting for the ceremony to begin and the healing to once again commence.  The place is now mostly attended by bikers, cops, firemen, volunteers and every television and radio station in the valley but what was missing was the regular folks..... where the hell were they?  The average mom and pop were not to be seen and this left me with an uneasy feeling in my stomach.


I get it that it is a week day and people have to work or that the kids have to go to school but come on folks, make some arrangements this one time a year, plan ahead..... we have to make a sacrifice however small or large to keep these victims and these events fresh in our hearts and minds or like so many other things, they will slowly disappear and become distant memories of some awful thing that happened a long, long time ago...... when we arrived the crowd attendance was horrible.  Last year, in the pouring rain it was difficult to even find a chair to sit on, these year with incredible weather, you could have taken eight chairs for yourself and laid down across them and there would still be plenty of chairs.

As I was getting a good look at the old restored Plymouth Fury, Scottsdale Police car and the incredible Van Pelt Fire Engine behind the stage I could hear the bag pipes begin to play and let me tell you, as a proud Irishman and cops kid, I've heard these far too many times in my life.
Shortly after the bagpipers ended a friend said "hey Jack, I want to introduce you to someone" and I turned around and started laughing....  Nice to meet you I said and the reply was "it sure is Jack".... What a pleasant surprise, standing in front of me was a man I had the great honor to meet up in Laconia a few rallies back and who I now call my friend, the one and only Saluting Marine of viral internet fame, Staff Sgt. Tim Chambers.  Tim always seems to appear at exactly the right places with impeccable timing and I thought this was the case today as well but I was wrong.  As it turns out, this memorial would not be the only event of the day.  At seven pm on this solemn day a candle light vigil would take place and Tim would be the guest of honor and the man to address the crowd and I knew that they brought in the right man for the job.  A few minutes later as we paused in silence for the exact moment that the plane hit the tower I captured two photos taken only moments apart from each other and they are my hands down favorite photos of the entire day and night and I'd like to share them with you now.
Today I rode a roller coaster of feelings and emotions and I welcomed them all.  I was reminded of the pain, the epic sadness, the horror, the loss, the devastation and the overwhelming fear that I felt on this day 12 years prior but I was also reminded of how this nation pulled together, how we put aside our differences and we were one people, how neighbor helped neighbor, how stranger helped stranger.  I was reminded of honor and the selflessness that wave after wave of our first responder's exhibited as they gave their own lives to try and save others.  I was reminded of the patriotism this tragedy had pulled back out of our beat down post Viet Nam souls and as I looked at the total and utter respect that these young men and women pictured above showed on this day for people that most never knew of other than for a name on a list or attached to a flag in a field and I knew that we as a people still had hope for our future.  That we as a nation could rise above the attacks of 9/11 and more than a decade of war that has followed.  We are a tired people but on this day we were uplifted because of the compassion shown and shared and it was a beautiful thing to witness.

When the ceremony was over and the people had nearly all gone, I stayed on for an hour or so and just walked the field.  I learned that not only was each flag marked with a number and a name, but what the age of that person was and what they were doing on that day and the biggest surprise of all was that on each tag was a little blurb about each person and it gave some humanity to the strangers whose names appeared on each of these 2,996 flags in the Healing Fields on this day and it touched me deeply.  During the ceremony I once again had the honor and privilege to read the names of some of the victims and I will forever hold that memory close to my heart.  The property was now mostly volunteers, a few friends, all the tv stations doing live shots and one lone fireman!  That lone fireman stood watch over this field on this day as if to say "WE STILL GOT YOUR BACKS" and I just couldn't help but watch him from behind for a bit as he stood there keeping an eye on the fields much like our friend Tim Chambers does as he salutes all who ride on Rolling Thunder, the similarity did not escape me.
 Today helped restore some much needed faith in me and seeing the thousands who attended the candle light vigil tonight took away some of my anger over the morning attendance.  I witnessed people once again come together out of nothing but good and compassion and a passion was once again reignited in me.  So in as much as I went to this memorial today to support those who have lost and to hold true to "NEVER FORGIVE, NEVER FORGET" as my tattoo reads, it was this memorial that in-fact helped me and I didn't even know I needed it!

Until we see each other on the road again;

Keep the wind in your face,
Tits in your back and
The man off your ass!

Your friend,
Jack Shit

5 comments:

  1. Beautiful, Jack.

    I am so proud of our Nation.

    Keep the Faith.

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  2. Thank You Jack! Since Cass and I have moved to Florida, we could not be there yesterday. It's great to hear there was a great turnout for the vigil. Your description of what you witnessed made us feel we were actually there. Ride safe my friend and again....Thank You!

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  3. Inspiring photos of our service men and women and the backdrop of the flags.

    ReplyDelete