Global War On Terror Remembrance Wall

gwot_wall_46136-8The Global War On Terror Wall of Remembrance made its way to Bismarck last weekend, and I was able to take my kids there and give it some context.  One side features terrorist attacks on our country going back over thirty years as well as important points in history along the way.  The other side features names of those who lost their lives due to terrorism or the war against terrorism.


gwot_wall_46150-2I thought ND National Guard Adjutant General Al Dohrmann put it best when he said tht every name on this wall was the most important person in the world to someone.  I sat in front of this wall with my kids and did my best to impress that upon them.


gwot_wall_pano_0087Click on the image for a MUCH larger version

After a long day at the Touch the Trucks event, and hungry as heck, my kids did a great job of patiently listening to me trying to give context to this traveling monument.  On the way to get our Pizza Burgers Flyin’ Style at Big Boy they asked me about how I remember the attacks of September 11th, 2001, and it was good to share my memories of the day.  I hope they don’t have a similar experience in their lifetimes, although I’m not too sure what the odds are on that.

Find out more about this traveling monument here.

2017 North Dakota Peace Officer Memorial Ceremony

leo_memorial_45669I didn’t actually spend much time photographing the ceremony, but I did attend it this year.  Due to wind and threat of rain, the event was moved to the capitol’s Memorial Hall instead of outside at the monument on the east side of the J-Wing.

I did shoot some video of the rifle volley:

The video is in HD if you click through to watch it on YouTube.

This is a somber event, and one that I hope will get a lot more attention now that the community has gone through a major event with law enforcement and pro-LE sentiment seem to be at an all time high. Our community honors our heroes.

One of the rare times when I like that “Painterly” effect

honor_guard_45698-700_painted-(crop)(Click on the image for a larger version)

This weekend I’ll post a couple things from the peace officers’ memorial ceremony on Wednesday, but there’s no time to do so today.  I did want to share this photo, though, because it is one of the few photos I’ve taken that lends itself to a particular effect.

I love HDR (High Dynamic Range” photography, especially with drone footage.  I’m no master, but I hope to improve.  I love the way I can grab details from the lightest and darkest parts of the photo and blend them all together into a “hyper-realistic” final product, and if done with the proper restraint it can be breathtaking while still not entirely artificial looking. Sadly, so many examples of HDR imagery (especially when it first took off) are overblown, oversaturated, pasty conglomerations that reduce the technique to an eyesore.

Not this one.  I wanted a “painted” effect for the Peace Officers’ Association honor guard, and it worked.  I had the right lighting, I had the right subjects (they stood STILL), and it all came together.  I’d love your feedback on this effect.  I’ll post a couple of photos and a video sometime in the near future.

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.