Memorial Day with a soldier

He’s just a kid, 23 year old I think, dating one of my young cousins. My brother, a veteran who is 51, and I stood against the privacy fence at a weekend cookout in Fayetteville drinking beers and listening to his stories from two tours in Afghanistan. The scenes he talked about in an almost off-handed way were of violence and gore of the worst kind, maimed bodies and women and children blown to bits by bombs. He extended his enlistment for five years while in Afghanistan, and he’ll head back in November. These are the defining, formative times of this young guy’s life. He was a polite, not-yet-shaving boy from a farm in Idaho who loves to hunt and fish, and he already has a lifetime of horror stories from war. He never voiced his opinion of the politics of the war, just of doing his job and of the camaraderie with the guys in his unit. He let it slip that he’s having trouble sleeping since he’s returned. He’s the face of this war, now, for me, one of the young men who might make it back or might not.


All the roadrunning

Emmylou Harris and Mark Knopfler — of Dire Straits fame — put together this disc last year, and it’s worth adding to your collection. Central Elementary School Principal John Sanderson gave it to me before Christmas, but I’m only just now getting around to really listening to it. Both of these artists have made careers of producing great music not just by themselves but by working with other musicians, and their ability to blend styles is evident on this collection. Knopfler’s understated, almost mundane singing and inspired guitar playing work well with Emmy Lou’s near-perfect vocals. There are no great songs here, but they are all very good and get better with each listen. The most memorable is easily “This is us,” a scrapbook of poetic memories from a marriage. Old musicians making quality new music is a good thing.


Coming home

Every time I go down east, approaching the mountains gets me excited. As soon as I can see them down by Marion I get excited. By the time I’ve passed Old Fort, I feel like I’ve arrived. I was a military brat who moved frequently as a kid, but I’ve found home. It’s more a feeling than anything else, an emotional tie to a place. Most people probably know it from an early age, and I envy those folks. It took me a while longer.

— By Scott McLeod

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