May 31

Dedicated to those who are still prisoners of war or are missing in action

This year, a new twist, a dedication to the Prisoners of War and the Missing in action. The table with the flag, the vase, the lemon, the place setting, and all are part of a ceremony to remember the POW and MIA. It was part of the dedication of the Freewheelers mc clubhouse.

The annual Memorial Day ride collects bikers from all the clubs who share a common passion for the United States of America. I feel honored to ride this annual ride with other patriots, with veterans and those who love these United States.  It’s an annual ride to honor those who have served and died.

For those who are combat vets from Vietnam and other military actions, this is a day of fellowship for them, a day of closeness.  Often during the day I saw evidence of a brotherhood, a bonding between vets.

Saluting at Taps

After the ride left The Shop in Bismarck, we rode out to Veterans Cemetery for the annual service.  There, patriotism and respect was thick, shared not only by an off-duty soldier but also the young man who stopped at every grave marker to salute the dead.  The young man was very careful not to step on the gravesite of any of the dead whom he saluted.  Through the entire ceremony he worked his way through the markers, stopping at each one.

A young man's salute

Flagpoles ring the center courtyard of the cemetery, and bikers manned their station to raise the flags to full mast, then lower them to half-mast to honor the war dead.  In the last two or three years, bikers have contributed time and money to honor those who are currently serving and those who have served in the past. It’s not a new thing, but it has become recognized as an essential part of military and veteran services.  So, they are invited to ceremonies such as this, and take an active role in the ceremony.

Meanwhile, families gather to remember those whom they love and have died.  Their private grief at is off to the side of the ceremony where they can enter in to their own memories.

I get very immersed in the story of the day, paying attention to the activities, but also the atmosphere of the  setting.  I hope these photos give you a sense of the deep gratitude which we share for those who have served in the military. Without them, we’d not be who we are.

Remembering alone

May 30 deux

A dusty start

I found a new summertime entertainment — motocross.  I’ve always wanted to go to a race, and on this day decided to give it a look-see.

The course in Mandan is open and easy to view. For a photographer, the shots are more than plentiful with many good locations from which to shoot.  It was a lazy, hot day. The dust hung in the air. The sun was warm. It was a perfect day to hang out on the hill and watch the competition

The riders are mostly young boys, but there are a good number of young girls and some not-so-young men who run the course.  I’ve gotten to know some of the riders and their parents, and am lovin’ the fact that these are friends and neighbors, easily approachable and fun to be with.  My Sunday afternoons have a new event.

May 22

ND 500

Kids these days!  All they care about is fast cars and exciting motorcycles. Sheesh. When I was a kid at least we had a drag strip outside of town.  Not any more. Now they’re in to long road races and snappy performances of little cars with big horsepower such as the ND 500.

At KTM Cycle Hutt in Mandan a gathering of tuners and jumpers attracted the crowd.  A Christian testimony was presented by the kids who jump their bikes.

up

and

over

and headed for a landing

These trick riders amaze me.  I wouldn’t have the guts to get even one wheel up in the air let alone the entire bike. Of course if you talk to this rider, he’ll tell you about his numerous broken bones.  No thanks. Not for me.

Lemme guess, you’re all about trick riding like this? Wanna?

March 1

North Dakota, like many western states, lives and dies with its railroads.  It was the railroad building after the Civil War in the late 1860’s that brought the 7th Cavalry here to protect the railroad workers.  Towns sprung up along the rail lines and some of those towns today are gone because the rail lines were abandoned.

Mandan is a railroad town. The Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad operates out of Mandan as it has for more than a century.  On a cold snowy evening, the switchyard is lit up with a golden glow and provides a photo op from the nearby hill.

Knowing the intimate historical connection between railroads, North Dakota and Mandan, I often imagine in my mind’s eye what it used to look like.  Perhaps something like this:

February 20

A short line for a short run

Yeah, I know skiing in North Dakota seems strange, especially if you cling to the stereotype of a flat-as-a-pancake myth of North Dakota.  Several ski areas in the state welcome skiers and snowboarders for a fun, light-hearted, fast and inexpensive break from winter’s doldrums.  Take Huff Hills for example, south of Mandan along the Missouri River.  For less money than you probably have in your pocket right now, you can rent skis, use the lifts and get a good workout.

Even if you don’t ski, it’s a good place to hang out and watch the more energetic folks with their colorful winter wear.  The funny thing is, the excitement and the life of Huff Hills is just down the road from the somber mood of the Veteran’s Cemetery. One does not offset the other, but they compliment each other, and they display North Dakota’s multi-faceted culture and social environment.

And oh yeah, if you do decided to set down your hot chocolate and give the quick little runs a try, there are all the accommodations of large mountain ski areas, from the lifts, to the ever-present ski patrol.  (Now THAT’S a job I regret I didn’t try harder to get when I was younger.)

January 2, 1010

January 2, 1010

Bismarck's Liberty Memorial Bridge at night

Bismarck’s Liberty Memorial Bridge is an aesthetically pleasing replacement to the old through-truss bridge that stood here since 1923.  I was fortunate to work on this historic replacement as the public information officer.  The glow of the bridge itself was a tedious design process, getting the lights to shine enough to light up the bridge, but not so much as to disturb the neighbors.  On the opposite shore, the Mandan side of the bridge is the memorial plaza, the 11 white spires surrounding the flag.

Memorial Bridge plaza, a tribute to veterans