Army Photos

Yesterday was Memorial Day and Brady gave me almost 12 gigs of photos I never saw, some I don’t remember taking. I went through too many this morning while having other things to do, but I had to put some up. If for no other reason than posterity.

Memorial Day 2015

My first work study job while the VA was putting me in school was taking the flowers and gifts off the graves of the dead veterans at Willamette National Cemetery. I did this for a while until they assigned me the section where the men of my company were buried. Knowing the faces that belonged to those names hit me pretty hard. Especially Kenny Leisten. I remember having dinner with his dad a month after Kenny was killed. He broke down in a crowded restaurant about having to identify what was left of his son. The price paid by these men and women is too big to even think about sometimes. Surviving an event where others died messes with you. I had to quit the job at the cemetery and ask for something else. I’d been there since for a few more funeral for veterans I knew. Yesterday I went with some of the combat veterans from from Post 134, my wife, my 6-year-old daughter, and a post member who had never served in the military and was born and raised in Australia. At one time or another we were all in tears.

As soon as we got there, these war hardened men fell to their hands and knees and scrubbed the headstones of the men we knew. Seeing all the other people there from all age groups paying their respects was incredibly humbling and very powerful. I thought I’d do my best to capture the moment so maybe others can feel it if they weren’t able to make it to a veteran’s grave this Memorial Day.

Have a great Memorial Day,


Here are a few of the photos:

I made a video I’ll be posting soon with more photos.

Post 134 Dragon Boat Team!

Thanks to the Returning Veterans Project and Bridge City Paddlers we have successfully built a veterans dragon boat team. We will race this summer on the Willamette. We are currently fundraising for the entrance fee, but it will happen. This is an example of the types of activities this generation of veterans need. If you are a veteran, or a family member of a veteran, we meet at Naito and Market at 11:45am on Saturday mornings. For more information email

Mommy Dearest Reading

Last night at Post 134 we had an amazing night full of great words. Cat in a Dumpster writing group hosted the reading with great stories about our mothers. We had heartfelt words about what it means to be a mother, heartbreaking narratives, and even a horror story. Here are some photos:

Bear the Pall Book Launch!

What a fantastic night of laughter and heartbreak. Sally Lehman’s anthology Bear the Pall about the loss of a parent really brought the house to tears many times and made people laugh at others.

Jared John Smith said about Bear the Pall, “The is a way to grieve. A cardboard coffin and tattooed Jesus. A mother’s energy returned as nature. Awkward times, dad and daughter. Three word phrases to spell out painful facts, a redefined Hell…This collection penetrates numbness without stinging. Every contribution here is sacred and lovely.”

Here are a few photos from the night:

How War Affects Us #4

Tuesday night we gathered, veterans and civilians alike, and we discussed poetry and prose. The Oregon Humanities sponsors these nights and we call them How War Affects Us. This was the 4th night in a series leading up to a reading in July for the participants. We read Brian Turner, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Faulkner and the discussion was amazing. This meeting happens the first Tuesday of every month and is free and open to the public.

hwau1 hwau2 hwau3 hwau4

Blood Drive at Post 134

We had a blood drive today at the post with the Red Cross. Many of our members and people off the street gave blood to save lives. This is what helping the community is all about. We will be doing this again this summer. Thank you to all of you who helped out.

blood blood2 blood3 blood4 b5