Moment – #reverb10 day 3

December 3 – Moment.

Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

(Author: Ali Edwards)

I’ve been chewing on this all day, not sure which moment to pick. Can there be more than one “most?” Is it just that this one is among many? Then I wondered how to frame this because it seems contrary to the prompt. I certainly mean no disrespect by the moment I chose because I’ve chosen the celebration of one soldier’s life as a moment when I felt most alive.

I was honored and privileged to be asked to help photograph the funeral of LTC Baldwin at Arlington National Cemetery on Oct 6, 2010. I did not know LTC Baldwin or his widow but his widow is a friend of a friend (also married to an Army Officer). He died in Afghanistan at the end of September.

These are a few of the photos I took that day. The day was cool but that temperature was tempered by the 2 mile hike (in hard shoes) from the chapel to the gravesite. I remember the sound of the horses shoes on the pavement along with the sound of the soldiers shoes on the pavement. There weren’t many other sounds. We passed some tourists walking in the cemetery and as the caisson passed they stopped and the man removed his hat (as he should). We kept a steady pace, never slowing – always constant. LTC Baldwin’s wife is young and so are their four children, two girls and two boys – their ages are about 8, 4, 3 and 1.

The sorrow and grief were palpable but so was the pride in the life for which this American hero lived and died. I learned much about the traditions of our military during this funeral. I got to attend and photograph the award ceremony prior to the service at which MAJ Baldwin was posthumously promoted to LTC, thus all of the awards were for LTC Baldwin. There were two sets of each of awards presented: one set to his widow and children and one set to his parents.

The sacrifice by these people cannot be matched but because of men and women like LTC Baldwin we live in the greatest nation on earth. This man volunteered to protect our nation and our freedoms, he was not forced to do so by some government mandate.

I do not want this post to become a political debate, even though I live inside the Beltway, I hate politics! I will say that:

I do not believe in war. I think war is stupid.

I do not believe in all of the policies set forth by our government (this Administration or the last one).

I fully support the men and women who wear the uniforms of the United States military and I thank God for them each and every night.

I guess that’s why this is a moment when I felt most alive because this was a moment I was thankful for the blessings of this life and the people who work to protect me and this great country.

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