July 16th started out just like any other day for me. It was a normal work day on a hot and muggy July day. I left for my lunch break to run some errands around Chattanooga and was listening to the news. There were reports of a shooting but no specific details. Unfortunately, gang shootings are all to common in Chattanooga and I didn’t think much of it other than the typical disdain for a senseless killing. Then another reports of another shooting, possibly the same shooter. I got back from lunch and saw our Psychiatrist walking to his car in the parking lot leaving work and I said “You be careful Dr. ______, there are a bunch of crazies out there shooting up the place.” I had no idea the reality of the situation. I found out in a training a bit later the reality of what had happened, that a lone gunman had shot and killed our servicemen attacking a recruiting center and a base. We all paused for a moment to collect our thoughts. The rest of the day was a whirlwind.
A week later I had just arrived home from work and through the power of social media, saw that in my hometown of Manchester, there was a makeshift town vigil assembling at an overpass awaiting one of the fallen being returned for the eventual burial the next day. I was unsure where exactly this was and if it had already happened but I decided to go investigate. I grabbed my Olympus OM10 which was loaded with a roll of Ilford HP5+ hoping I might get some documentary style photos. What I got was much more.
As I arrived, I noticed our town’s Fire Department there the fire truck’s ladder raised with a flag hanging at the interstate overpass. The EMS was there with their lights as well as the police representing. Maybe a 100 or so citizens gathered along the sidewalk of the overpass waving flags awaiting the motorcade to pass through. I began to become very emotional and was brought to tears, pulling my sunglasses down over my eyes to cover my emotions in public. A very patriotic feeling I have not felt since that fateful day of 9/11/2001 came over me as well as a subsequent feeling of a community and nation united. Very much the polar opposite of what our propagandist media and government would have us believe. I was here to honor this serviceman and to be a part of something bigger, this great country. As I took it all in, many of the big rigs passing underneath on the interstate would blow their horns in salute. I wondered if the one’s driving were veterans. A few cars did as well.
Reports were coming in via Facebook and text messages from the folk around stating what mile markers the motorcade was at. The anticipation heightened and then, in a short moment, the motorcade came and passed. We had done our duty. We had honored our fallen heroes in the only way we could, by showing our appreciation through action. I feel it is my duty to share a few images of what this appreciation meant to the citizens and what it means to me. It is a moment I will not forget, neither that July 16th or this day.
and the motorcade driving by in the distance