Thursday, May 22, 2014

Veterans Day Celebration Arco

In Arco last weekend there was a half day special celebration dedicated to veterans.
With live music, a parade of motorcycles, free bar-b-q, local vendors, and a beautiful spring day, the event was a nice way to spend a few hours.
I have been wondering if and how the business I was successfully growing in Cody could be reintroduced into this isolated area in which we live.
Was there interest?  Would it be embraced?  Were we too far removed from everything and everyone to make even a part-time go of it?
This veterans day celebration in Arco was a way to test out the waters.
I was both encouraged and gratified with what I found.
I'll do it again (we'll do it again) at a longer event in June and then a three day event in July.
And then perhaps we can consider formalizing the business and trying it one more time.............

These pictures were taken at the event.
Situated just on the outskirts of town, and with Number Hill dominating the landscape as always, my Mountain Boy and I had a good, tiring, exciting, reassuring, tiring, tiring day..................
Everyone was set up in the parking lot of the town bowling alley.
With still an hour to go before the event actually started, and with time and nervous energy to kill, I aimlessly wandered to lot.
In back of the bowling alley were the grounds to an elementary school.
As I stood beside the "No Entrance" sign I looked north towards the mountains, and then entered through the no entrance gate.
It was only 70 degrees (and already I could feel myself getting overheated), but further into the Big Lost River Valley there was still snow on the peaks of some of the mountains.
There are trails in those mountains that are open to the public only two months each year.  
Such is the level of snow and the elevation of some of the highest peaks in Idaho..............
Totally random and solitary childs' flip flop laying lost and forgotten in one corner of the parking lot...................
The event proper would not begin until the bikes arrived.
The motorcycle parade began in downtown Arco, and wound through some of the main roads before finishing at the bowling alley.
Still wandering aimlessly, I watched as volunteers set up tables and while these three young boys warmed up their instruments and voices in preparation for their moment in the spotlight.
They played surprisingly well.
Really well.
The voices sounded like the unsteady voices of boys soon changing into men.
But these great kids were here - volunteering their time - and would soon be entertaining..........however many people showed up for this thing.................
I heard them five minutes before I saw them.
One motorcycle made its appearance, and then one more, and then a 100 more.
And suddenly the quiet parking lot was filled with revved engines, and endless yards of leather and sunglasses and bandannas and flags.
The parking lot quickly filled with bikes and smiling people.
I started snapping pictures as fast as I could.............
Veterans, bikers, biker veterans, members of the public, all stood at attention while a young high school girl sang the national anthem................
This jeep belongs to a retired marine.
A new acquisition, it fits this man to a T.
He is someone we met just recently, are beginning to get to know, and have already decided that we like.
He, his two dogs, his jeep, and his tiny and renovated camper, make his world go 'round.
A big, burly, easy going, intelligent man, he may be someone we enjoy spending some time with.............
The day had begun with tedious setting up and then tedious and hot waiting.
As the event began in earnest, the parking lot quickly transitioned into a place filled with people and talking and music playing and hot dog grilling..............

I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
and then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
He'd stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers' tears?
How many pilots' planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, freedom isn't free.

I heard the sound of TAPS one night,
When everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That TAPS had meant "Amen,"
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom isn't free.

Kelly Strong

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