Wednesday, September 11, 2019

9-11 Remembered, Flight 93 18th Memorial Service

 Brenda and I attended the Eighteenth Memorial Service at the Flight 93 National Memorial.  It was a beautiful late summer morning much like that day in 2001 when our world changed.  The service and the memorial itself is a fitting tribute to those who's valor saved many lives and struck the first blow in what was to become the war on terror that eighteen years later still goes on.


We arrived at the venue via shuttle bus at 8:30

 A number of United Airline employees were present in the section where we were seated

 Security was tight.  Searches at the venue entrance were conducted by Secret Service agents and were similar to that of airport security.  Overhead Pennsylvania State Police circled. 

 Snipers were visible in distance

A close up of the group visible in the left of the above photo

 Others watched the crowd intently

Before the service Vice President Pence and his wife visited with the families 


As the ceremony began dignitaries arrived on stage. 

During the reading of the names of passengers and crew this officer set the cadence for the ringing of the Bells of Remembrance.  Upon the reading of a name he would open his right hand signaling the ringing of the first bell. 

As its tone faded his hand closed into a fist signaling the ringing of the second bell

The Bells of Remembrance

David Bernhardt, Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior 

Vice President Mike Pence delivered the closing keynote speech

 Alpha Conde, President of Guinea was in the audience

The media pool

The Memorial Wall

The Pennsylvania State Police Mounted Unit assisting with security 

Dignitaries and families gather at the crash site following the public ceremony

 A visitor pauses to contemplate the only photo of the crash of flight 93

The shuttle queue to the parking lot

Standing in the shuttle queue I struck up a conversation with a young gentleman.  I ask if he had any memories of 9-11 or if he was too young. He answered that he was two years old at the time and according to his parents, slept through the whole thing.  He asked were I was and I related my story.  I told him that the first tragic memorable event in my lifetime was the assassination of  President John F, Kennedy and that I was in elementary school at the time.  I listed the explosions of the space shuttles as other events where I remember where I was and what I was doing. He stated that Sandy Hook was the incident that stands out for him.  I shook my head and said something to the effect that mass shootings are so out of control.   His answer was sad and shocking at the same time, "And there's not a damn thing we can do about it"! 

I hope he is proven wrong.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Unusual Wild Turkeys

Wild Turkeys have recently been feeding on waste grain left in the harvested fields.  One flock that I have been encountering contains three unusual birds as can be seen in this series of photos.  These gray birds are known as leucistic or smoke-phase wild turkeys.  I at first wondered if they may be the result of cross breeding with domestic turkeys but from my internet research it seems that the common conclusion is that cross breeding highly unlikely.  




Sunday, August 11, 2019

Prayer in Public School

Often I see well meaning Facebook friends sharing meme's asking for prayer to be returned to our public schools.  The first question that pops to mind is, what prayer?  Are we speaking of Christian prayer?  If so should it a prayer suitable to Protestants, or to Catholics?  If it is to be appropriate to protestants which denomination should it most favor or should it be a prayer that all Christians would find acceptable?

As if the Christian question isn't difficult enough we must consider other religions for our country host a diverse mix of all the worlds religions.  What prayers should be taught in our public schools?  Should it be Christian only or should we also include others such as Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, etc. etc.  I have read that there are approximately 4000 different religions in the world today, so which should our government promote?

Thankfully our founding fathers answered all of these question in one simple phrase contained in the first amendment to the constitution of the United States

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

If someones tells you the founders of our nation established it as a Christian nation they telling you an absolute lie.  The first amendment is very clear.

Faith training belongs in the home, in the church, and without government interference as our founding fathers intended. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Meadow Grounds Lake Remembered

Yesterday morning I visited the former Meadow Grounds Lake site.The dam remains much as it has been the past 50 plus years although the lake is empty now.


Six years ago the lake was drawn down to the current level due to deficiencies in the dam and spillway.  Some of the fish were relocated while many were disposed of in a large pit dug in the side of the mountain.


Visiting the Meadow Grounds is for me much like visiting our local cemeteries.  As I wander among the tomb stones I see names of family and friends who have passed on. 


I recall times spent with them and how knowing them enriched my life while the pain of their loss is indelibly etched in my mind.  The preachers tell us that the day is coming when the dead will rise and live again, giving us hope that this life and death is not permanent, for better times and a better place is in store for our future.



And the same can be said of the Meadow Grounds Lake.



The earliest photo I have in my collection was taken in the summer of 1964 when the lake was very new.


I enjoyed many a day fishing the lake


And my wife enjoyed riding along.  Many evenings we would pick up hoagies at Harr's Store in Big Cove Tannery and have a Fulton County Dinner Cruise.


Wildlife abounded along the lake's shoreline


Ospreys frequented the skies overhead


Waterfowl such as this pied-billed grebe hunted its food rich waters


Each spring seen a number of common loons stopping in during their long northward migration


Spatterdock in the shallows provided cover for small fish and larger ones alike



Our niece Brittany from Florida joined us one evening for some outstanding sunfish spawning action


Nice size largemouth bass frequented the shallows


And would put up a great fight on ultra-lite gear


Whether one had a fancy bass boat with all the latest gadgets or a simple jon boat the Meadow Grounds was a place that all could enjoy a quiet time with nature.

                            

 When I loaded the boat for the last time in 2012 I had no idea that the next year would bring such change.  When the weather warmed in 2013 the draw down was well underway and by early April the lake level was too low for me to launch.  Early June seen the completion of the draw down.




We are told that the lake will rise again.  The local community raised over the $100,000 that the politicians requested.  We are told that the project is well underway with the design having been completed and the funding approved long ago. Currently the project is being held up by DEP,  Dam Safety permitting.  

As we await the resurrection we have only our faith and our memories to give us strength.  That seems to be the case both with our own life, death and hope of an afterlife as well as our hope that the Meadow Grounds Lake will again rise.  We must remain hopeful for without hope; life is futile, however as the years drag on the dream of seeing our lake return remains out of reach.  As spring fades into summer the chances of construction starting this year has faded as well. 

While we know it doesn't require an act of God to rebuild the lake, at this time it certainly seems so!         

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Florida Fotos; Early May Visit

My wife Brenda and I took a road trip to visit our Florida family in early May.  While the primary focus of our adventure was spending time with family, no trip to this bird paradise is complete without at least a little time spent behind the camera.  This collection of images were captured during two mornings along Joe Overstreet Road, Kenansville FL.

A Little Blue Heron displays incredible concentration while hunting

The phrase, light as a feather, popped to mind as I photographed this Purple Gallinule walking across the lily pads. 

Joe Overstreet Landing is a popular place to photograph the endangered Florida Snail Kite.
The Snail Kite eats only Apple Snails as seen here clutched in its talons.

Hovering above the aquatic vegetation, the leg bands are clearly visible on this bird.


Airboat rides are a poplar attraction offered at Joe Overstreet Landing.

A Meadow Lark sings from atop a fence post along the roadside.


A cow and calf watch intently as I pass by.  Most of the cattle here are of heat resistant breeds 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Green Heron Exposed!

Green Herons spend most of their time hidden in the heavy foliage along the water's edge.  I was fortunate to encounter this heron walking a floating log in a shallow cove on Raystown Lake.  The bird allowed my boat to approach to within a few feet as I photographed it using a Canon EOS 6D and 100-400 f4.5-5.6L IS USM.