Working all the angles

ww_memorial_37376-8_hdrI recently took my boys to the memorial monument on the east side of the Liberty Memorial bridge.  They read the plaques an wandered around, appreciating both the monument and the nice weather (finally) after so many rainy and/or windy days. I, of course, wanted to do some photo work as I’ve been bouncing off the walls lately.


ww_memorial_37383Here’s the view upward as my camera looks straight up the middle with a wide-angle lens.  A little fill, a little circular polarizer, and I have a satisfying bit if white geometry on a vivid blue backdrop, with a trio of flags thrown in for good measure.


ww_memorial_dji_0085My favorite angle.  Not only does this show the center “aurora” looking spires, but it also looks like something out of a Picasso painting of an eyeball.

I’ve been trying to revisit some familiar photo sites lately, as well as branch out for some new ones…but this is a b usy time of year for me.  Thankfully I still have a few places in mind that aren’t far out of town.  Then I get to post them here and share!

EOW 2-11-2016

peace_officer_memorial_36388-90_HDRFargo police officer Jason Moszer has passed away due to injuries inflicted by one of the citizens he’s sworn to protect.  Domestic violence calls can be the most unpredictable and volatile situations, and this proved true on the night he was shot. This cowardly act on the part of the shooter was senseless and deprived a community and a family of their hero.  I drove to the capitol yesterday and stopped at the Peace Officer Memorial to ponder for a second.  The thought of another name being added to that wall is infuriating.

There’s a donation campaign underway.  If you want to help out Officer Moszer’s family, please consider going here and donating.  I’ve been on the receiving end of financial help from others when we were going through our family’s avalanche of medical and other issues, and it’s an enormous blessing.  Here’s the link:

Pray for the family and comrades of Officer Jason Moszer.

In memoriam

gwot_memorial_32255I teach my kids that there are three real superheroes: the preacher, the soldier, and the first responder.  I took a moment to visit the GWOT Memorial last weekend and thought I’d share this image from that visit.  Would have loved to visit the Veteran’s Memorial this weekend as we remember the Pearl Harbor attack, but I’ve been down with a sinus infection thing all weekend.  That’s okay…one can still be thankful from a bed or couch, all dosed up on TheraFlu.

ND Peace Officer Memorial Service

fallen_officers_memorial_24941It’s been long overdue, so I’m posting  few photos I took at the North Dakota Peace Officer Memorial Service back on May 15th.  The memorial is located east of the Judicial Wing of the capitol, and the area is marked off and reserved for this service once a year.

fallen_officers_memorial_25064The honor guard stands by.  Representatives from various law enforcement agencies around the state make up this team.

fallen_officers_memorial_24993As Attorney General, Wayne Stenehjem is the state’s senior law enforcement official.  Here he gives his remarks.  Also speaking were Governor Dalrymple, Chief Justice Vandewalle, Chaplain Dan Sweeney, and Sheriff Pat Heinert.

The flags returned to full-staff.

Salute by the honor guard.  Very loud, very striking…and very challenging for a photographer, as the smoke of the first shot or two limits available chances for a photo.

fallen_officers_memorial_25063A hard hymn to listen to; the bagpipes have a certain connotation all their own that remind us why we’re present on this day.

fallen_officers_memorial_25019The wreath placed at the memorial at the conclusion of the service.  Thankfully this year there were no additional names to add to the wall; however, as a shameless cheerleader for local law enforcement, I know it’s still important to pause and reflect upon the risks our state’s officers take in the service of protecting their fellow North Dakotans.

Somber day, so here’s a somber photo

gwot_memorial_27961After our camera club’s meeting this morning I decided to poke around to find a photo that would benefit from the gloomy day.  I didn’t have to look far, as I soon spotted these flowers left at the Global War on Terrorism Memorial over at Fraine Barracks.

Somber, cloudy days are often good time for reflection; the rain and bleak skies just seem to set the mood perfectly.  On such a day, should one be at a loss for something to ponder, consider those who have sacrificed their lives for our country.

Still mourning Gentleman Wade

I miss Gentleman Wade Westin, a man who personified the term for which he was known. Fond memories of Sunday nights at the Chinese restaurant, or ribbing him about being the world’s nicest guy, or watching him on stage in the Medora Musical. He passed away four years ago today. It was an absolute privilege to have been his friend.

I met Wade when he joined our production staff at KFYR-TV back in the 1990s; since then I’ve had many noteworthy memories, even though our opportunities to see each other grew farther and farther apart. Guys get busy, you know…that’s just how it goes. I wish it wasn’t so. A while before his passing, Wade and I met up at Taco del Mar and chatted it up about what we’ve been up to, fatherhood, and that kind of thing. We even talked about a possible project we could collaborate on, an idea I relished. That’s the last time I got to spend time with Wade.

When we worked at KFYR-TV together we did a commercial for a furniture or mattress store, one where Wade played a guy who snuggled in under the covers of a comfy new mattress. It took a while for the nickname “Snuggly” to wear off. I had a printout of that shot somewhere in my souvenir box, but in my search for it tonight I came up empty handed. Bummer.

The photo above was from the Medora Musical on my honeymoon trip with my wife. I’d booked front row center tickets of course, planning a Medora weekend on our way back from a week in the middle of nowhere back in my beloved Rocky Mountains. We drove past the turn to Wade’s home near Grenora, ND and it prompted me to call his cell phone and say hi. When he heard we were coming, he arranged the VIP treatment and a backstage tour for us, and we got to chat with him and his family briefly before he left to prepare for the night’s show. He then congratulated us during the show. That’s just the kind hearted, generous guy that Wade’s friends will all remember.

We used to hit the China Wok restaurant in Mandan on Sunday evenings, striking a friendship with the owners over time. When their visas came up for renewal, Wade took it upon himself to get his friends from the Sunday night dinners to sign testimonials to aid in their renewals.

It’s a shocker to have a friend and fellow family man snatched away so suddenly and so early. Of course one tries to make sense of it, but there’s no sense to be had. What we can do is take comfort in the message from his CaringBridge page: “Thank you for your love, support and prayers. Wade is at peace with God His Father and Jesus His Savior in the healing presence of the Holy Spirit.” The Bible talks about a peace that passes all understanding…I pray for that peace for his family and everybody who misses Gentleman Wade.

I have a copy of a TV commercial Wade did for KNDX (Channel 26) back when they first went on the air. It was a “dance contest” making fun of contestants with the numbers of other local TV channels. It features Wade being Wade. I attached a brief tribute at the end. It isn’t much, but it’s a token of my respect for a friend. The music is a portion of “In the Sweet By and By” performed by my friend Sarah.

I know there are lots of people out there who are touched by Wade’s passing as they were by his personality. Hopefully this will trigger some of your best memories as well.

Looking back at one of the most memorable Memorial Day addresses I’ve heard UPDATE: Now with text of his address available for download

Let’s not forget that Memorial Day is about one thing: honoring fallen heroes who died defending our freedom. I typically attend the ceremony held for such purpose at the Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery each year, the most memorable of which was in 2010. It was during that ceremony that I witnessed a stirring address by C. Emerson Murry, former Major General of the ND National Guard. He was the keynote speaker of the event, and a very memorable one at that.

The words that struck me the most from his keynote address are best paraphrased as follows: “To be born free is an accident. To live free is a responsibility. To die free is an absolute obligation.” That made me set my camera in the grass and hastily type it into my phone so I wouldn’t forget it. Maj Gen Murry fulfilled that obligation, and it’s due to such men and women of our armed forces that we enjoy the freedoms we take for granted.

The National Guard provided me with the text of his remarks in PDF format from an issue of the Guardian magazine, and I’m pleased to be able to provide you a link to that PDF: (Click Here)

It was the last chance I had to hear him speak; Maj Gen Murry passed away in September of that year. You ought to take the time to read about the life of this remarkable man by clicking here.

Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony 2012

Yesterday marked the date of the Peace Officers Memorial ceremony here in North Dakota. It’s held annually at the monument on the capitol grounds in honor of law enforcement officers who have perished in the line of duty. Most years it is a solemn look back at distant history…this year it was a reflection on the tragic losses of two officers within the past year. I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said, so I’m just going to share a few photos and let them do the speaking.

Standing at attention

Heartfelt thanks and condolences by Attorney General Stenehjem and others

Wreath presentation before the memorial

21 gun salute

Two names added

I’ll gladly admit that I’m a tireless cheerleader for law enforcement personnel here and all across our great nation. Some of them give it all in the line of duty, and this memorial honors that sacrifice. The national memorial ceremony is next week, and since there are two North Dakota families traveling to attend that ceremony, the North Dakota commemoration was moved to this week. Next week is Law Enforcement Week here in North Dakota and all across the USA, so please take any opportunity you get to thank them for their service on our behalf.

9/11 Ceremony at the state capitol grounds

I spent the afternoon at the commemorative ceremony at the capitol Sunday. It was an appropriate memorial of the terrorist attack on our nation (not just a “tragic event” as some say) and focused on honoring our nation as well as those who have died in its service. Here’s a brief photo narrative of the day:

Governor Jack Dalrymple and his wife Betsy hosted the event.

The Mandan High School Concert Choir provided stirring music, with my friend Becca at the piano.

US Senator John Hoeven gave his remarks.

US Congressman Rick Berg also spoke.

Bismarck City Commissioner Mike Seminary represented the City of Bismarck.

Mandan City Commissioner Dennis Rohr. Of course, I’ll always know him as Chief.

The Governor and First Lady stand with Senator Hoeven during the presentation of a wreath to commemorate the day. Lt. Governor Drew Wrigley is looking on in the foreground.

Bismarck Police Chief Keith Witt spoke on behalf of first responders.

Lincoln Police Officer Marcel Sim gave an account of that day,
when he was working at Ground Zero for the NYPD.

Maj. General Spry has thousands of soldiers fighting not only the Global War on Terrorism
but also natural disasters here at home.

Lt. Colonel Dean Eckmann described going to battle stations and flying CAP sorties
over Washington DC that day with the NDNG Happy Hooligans.

Jenette Nelson spoke of the loss of her daughter and how her memory lives on.

Paul Goodiron gave perhaps the most stirring speech of the day, honoring not only those who serve but also the families who serve with them and endure their loss.

The Patriot Guard Riders had a presentation of their own to the office of the Governor.

First responders from fire, ambulance, and local law enforcement were in attendance to commemorate the day as well. I got to hang out with one of my favorite law enforcement friends and take photos.

One popular part of the day was a Blackhawk helicopter on the capitol mall, available for all to see.  Its crew were on hand to answer questions and explain the operation of the aircraft.

Then it was time to go home, tribute given and memories shared.

Late visit to the National 9/11 flag

Back in mid-August the National 9/11 Flag made a stop in North Dakota as part of the organization’s mission to visit all fifty states. There was a ceremony and even the opportunity for folks to nominate someone in advance for stitching the flag. I made an appeal for folks to nominate Sgt. Steve Kenner with the PD choosing representatives on his behalf. Apparently some of you did, because that’s precisely what happened. I received an email from the organization saying that they received a lot of nominations on his behalf.

Sadly, I had to work and wasn’t able to see the ceremony, but I did get a chance to visit the flag (and put in a stitch of my own) prior to its departure. Here are a few quick photos for those of you who weren’t able to attend.

Patches from the other states who the flag has already visited are marked by standing cards giving a little bit of information about the state’s participation.

Here’s the area where North Dakota’s patch is located and where the stitches were applied.

One stitch at a time, they say. This is actually the top edge of the flag. I believe the patches come from retired flags which have flown in North Dakota.

One patch in particular goes almost unnoticed, but someone from the organization pointed it out to me as “the Lincoln patch.” It’s hard to see from the edge of the flag, but thanks to a 300mm lens, I can give you a closer look:

If I recall correctly, this is a patch from the flag which was draped over the casket of President Abraham Lincoln when he was buried. How’s that for a piece of history?

I suppose it’s somewhat appropriate timing to finally post this on the weekend of the tenth anniversary of that fateful day. It wasn’t my intention, I’m just late as usual. You can find out more about the national 9/11 flag by clicking here. You can read the program from the ceremony in Word format by clicking here (maybe I can convert it to PDF later).