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.

I used to take a lot more of these

capitol_sunset_45401-3This is the sunset from last Saturday night.  I was on my way home from a men’s prayer meeting and noticed the sunset as I passed the capitol building, so I whipped around for a quick photo.  By “quick” I mean I took 98 of them and ended up choosing the fourth one.

Check out the “Sunsets” category if you like this one, there are plenty more.  Or the “Sunrises” category.  Or the “Skies and Stars” category…they’re all good.

It’s a first, so you bet I was there

capitol_blue_line_45605-7_hdrIt’s past my bedtime, so I’m just going to share the photos.  I didn’t get out until after I got my kids put to bed, and I let them stay up late in the first place.  One more benefit of homeschooling.

Thanks to the legislature, this will be an annual event commemorating the men and women of law enforcement in our state.

 

capitol_blue_line_45566-70_hdr

capitol_blue_line_45521-3_hdr

capitol_blue_line_45539-41_hdr

capitol_blue_line_45524-6_hdr

capitol_blue_line_45649-55_hdr

capitol_blue_line_45596-8_hdr

capitol_blue_line_45554-6_hdr

capitol_blue_line_45548-50_hdr

The day the Globemaster arrived

c17_44791-3_hdrTwo weeks ago the Bismarck-Mandan area got a visitor.  A large visitor, namely a C-17 Globemaster.  This is an enormous military cargo aircraft, and it made quite an impression.  Thankfully I had arranged an opportunity to climb around on it!

c17_44600As soon as it arrived, the trucks lined up.  These are vehicles belonging to the 81st Civil Support Team (CST), a special National Guard unit which was heading to Alaska for a week of training.

 

c17_44666While the Executive Air trucks began pumping fuel, the guardsmen began assembling the ramps needed to get their trucks up the steep ramp.  Being able to transport like this is one of the capabilities they need to maintain, so they have their own ramps and train on getting their equipment mobilized.

 

c17_44818-20_hdrLet’s get back to the airplane a little bit.  She’s a big girl, and I don’t think she minds me saying so.  The cockpit is so high up that they can’t even see obstacles within around 45 feet of the nose.

 

c17_44736-8_hdrThose are some big wheels!  Three deep.  They have to be able to hold a load of over 170,000 pounds according to Wikipedia.

 

c17_44646-bI don’t like heights, so when I caught myself wondering what the view would be like from atop that tail I quickly found something else to ponder, something less dizzying.

 

c17_44724-6_hdr“Does this make my butt look big?  GOOD.”  I don’t think it’s possible to properly convey how big this thing is, especially since it’s gotta be able to hit 500mph and 45,000 feet.

 

c17_44688As you can see from the tail, this aircraft came to us from Mississippi.  They got to hang out in Alaska with the North Dakota folks, so I hope they brought jackets. 🙂

 

c17_44851-3_hdriPads…is there anything they can’t do?  The crew use these instead of the checklists of old.  The loadmaster was busy making sure the load was distributed properly, then putting his calculations into the aircraft’s computer.  That computer will then provide the pilot and copilot with information regarding their takeoff and their flight.  They don’t just floor it and hope they don’t run out of runway.

 

c17_44893-5_hdrLoad shift in the air is unacceptable, so this equipment is arranged and secured very carefully.  Look how high up the ceiling is in there!

 

c17_44983-5_hdrBy the way, the North Dakota CST has the coolest logo in the entire nation.  Just sayin’.

 

c17_44995-7_hdrCan’t forget everybody’s luggage!  It would stink to ship out for a week long training and forget your toothbrush.  Between the flags is a porthole for the crew to look in on the cargo area.  Behind that wall are a couple of bunkbeds for the crew, too…this aircraft is capable of long flights, especially with mid-air refueling.

 

c17_44806-11_hdrReady to roll. At this point I bolted to one end of the runway, based upon my conversation with the copilot. The wind seemed to be in such a fashion that they’d take off toward the northwest. But the wind can change…

 

c17_45034Kinda makes that passenger jet in the foreground look like a little cigar tube by comparison, doesn’t it?  And they aren’t even side by side, so the airliner looks artificially large.

I’d love to say I got great photos and/or video of it taking off, but the wind shifted and they needed to take off in the direction opposite I’d expected based on an earlier conversation with the copilot.  Darn.  I was all set to catch them flying overhead, but instead got to watch them take off away from the camera.   And a light pole was in the way, to boot.  But here’s the video I did get (I was there primarily for photos):
 

 

For me it’s always been about one thing

some-still-call-him-pigThis poster hung on my dad’s garage wall for years.  It later hung on mine.  I haven’t decorated the garage at my new house yet, or even finished painting the drywall, but I may make a copy and hang it there, too.  I believe, while everybody’s human and there are a few exceptions, that law enforcement personnel are heroes.  Period.

The terrorism that overtook our state over the past year wasn’t a pipeline issue for me; it was a law enforcement issue, plain and simple.  The pipeline will be great for North Dakota, but that was none of my concern.  What I had a problem with was my friends having to change their online presence due to doxing and threats, their families being threatened, and residents of Morton County fearing for their safety while law enforcement tried to keep up with the influx of thousands of lawbreakers.

When protesters stood on Main Street in Mandan with a pig’s head on a stake, you bet that made my blood boil.  When they accuse my friends of atrocious crimes, yeah I take it personally.

That’s why it’s so cool to see our communities rally around our law enforcement officers.  Billboards, decals, rallies…we make it clear that we support and appreciate those who are sworn to protect and serve.  I hope we never have to endure another such event, but no matter what happens I think it’s pretty obvious that the residents of Bismarck-Mandan BACK THE BLUE.

The hail, you say

hail_2001As the old poem goes, the fog comes on little cat feet.  The hail on June 9th, 2001, however…well, that came in its own indescribable fashion.  The most noteworthy memory of this is the two underpasses on 7th and 9th Streets filling up with ice and water.  I was at a friend’s house that evening and remember walking to Thayer Avenue just east of St. Alexius to watch the city clearing chest-high piles of hail stones with a payloader and grader!

In the process of going through old motorcycle racing video tapes last week I found the footage of this event, footage I had presumed lost.  This was before I was into photography or videography, so even though I had a digital camcorder at the time I did not have a steady hand.  But shaky amateur footage is better than none, right?  Have a look:


Click on the YouTube logo to view in a larger window

it was over ninety degrees out that evening, so once all the hail fell it began to melt and give off steam.  That’s why it seems so dark and foggy, it was a sauna outside.  My camera gave multiple high humidity warnings before actually shutting down to protect itself. 12th Street was half river, half avalanche for the duration of this storm. It was unbelievable. The hail piled up in a low spot at 12th Street and Thayer Avenue, forcing the city to bring in heavy equipment and dig/plow it out.  . The clouds were incredible.  And the underpasses needed to be dug out and cleared by that same sort of heavy machinery.

Do you remember this storm?

Show of support

community-support-decalsWe North Dakotans, residents of Bismarck-Mandan in particular, love our law enforcement personnel.  The last eight months haven’t just been trying on them, but on the community as a whole, and as a result I think the bond between citizens and LEOs has been forged even stronger.  You’ve probably noticed many cars sporting the above decals, which I believe are still available at Signs and Wonders along with other places.

 

Cx_FrCLUUAAeT-3.jpg largeUnderstanding that relationship, I put together this quick meme early on in the conflict. It may seem prescient now, but I really just understand the fact that our community respects those who put it all on the line to keep our community safe and uphold the law.

 

backtheblue_flag_44573And we ain’t done yet.  Back the Blue billboards have sprung up around town, events are in the works to celebrate the law enforcement community, and there’s even legislation in the works to honor them.

 

capitol_backtheblue_mockup_44339Yes, that’s right.  Senate Concurrent Resolution 4015 (PDF) will not only designate a special day as Peace Officers Memorial Day to honor fallen law enforcement officers, but it also calls for a blue light display to adorn the capitol on an annual basis.  I made this hasty mock-up as an example of what I can envision the capitol looking like each May.  (Yeah, without the snow.  I discovered that I haven’t actually taken any night time photos of the capitol unless the windows are all lit up with something, so I had to do some heavy-handed Photoshop on the easiest shot I had available.  Cut me some slack.)

The resolution has been in the House awaiting a floor vote since March 20th.  If you feel motivated, let your legislators know how important it is that SCR 4015 gets passed.

So yeah, we support our law enforcement.  I sure hope that their tough jobs are made a little easier by knowing that they’ve got the appreciation of North Dakotans that respect them, pray for them, and acknowledge that (while nobody’s perfect) they protect our communities with dedication and professionalism.

Resurrection Morning 2017

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.

For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. (Romans 5:8-19)

While Christmas is such a special time, the coming of the Messiah who was to save us from our sins, Easter is where Jesus Christ’s work was done. I think this holiday, when we commemorate the death, burial, and resurrection of our Savior, is seldom given the importance it merits. This one particular event reconciled God and sinners…what could be greater than that?

Prior to Christ’s coming, the world was bound by God’s law. The Bible says that if a person transgresses the law in one point, he’s guilty of the whole law. Those are some pretty impossible commandments for a person to live by without breaking, aren’t they? Well, that’s kind of the point.

The people of Israel had to atone for their sins by giving blood sacrifices in the temple. They were told to sacrifice animals “without spot” or blemish by the law of Moses. That is, they had to sacrifice their best. The same thing applies to Jesus; we’re all sinners, so only a perfect sacrifice could be made on our behalf. Since there is “none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10) there was no one able to make that sacrifice…until God sent his only begotten Son to die on our behalf. As Peter wrote:

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. (I Peter 1:18-21)

Now you know why they refer to Jesus as “the Lamb of God.”

This comes back to the sad mistake of people trying to work their way to heaven by doing good works or following sacraments, or hoping that their good works outweigh their bad and somehow tip some sort of spiritual balance to make them “mostly good” and earn them a place in heaven some day. Neither of those things are outlined in God’s plan for salvation. Only the sacrifice made by Jesus on the cross could pay the penalty for our sins.

This one time offering on our behalf has made a way for God and each sinner to be reconciled:

By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:

But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.

For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:10-14)

Notice: doing any sort of ritualistic sacrifice can never take the place of what Jesus did, nor is there any need to perform that sacrifice again. The act performed on the cross stands not only as sufficient for all our sin, but as the only sacrifice capable of making atonement for us. No Saturday afternoon wafer required.

Things changed between God and man that day. Previously, people were not able to approach God in the temple; only a priest who had made atonement for his sins could do so. The holiest place in the temple was separated by a veil, so that not just anyone could approach God. When Jesus died, the veil of the temple was “rent in twain from the top to the bottom” (Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38). There goes the priesthood, and the separation between God and men. An everlasting sacrifice was made by Jesus; no further sacrifice on the altar of the temple was necessary (or sufficient).

So now it’s up to each person to approach God on his/her own, in prayer. Jesus told his disciples, God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24 Rather than perform a physical ritual through a priest, it is now up to each person to address God personally, spiritually, through prayer.

Look at the people who were saved in the New Testament after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. They simply believed in Him and in his death, burial, and resurrection. The very same things we commemorate this Easter weekend. They didn’t need absolution from a man; they didn’t need membership in a particular church; and they didn’t need to do it every Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning. They simply acknowledged that they were sinners and put their faith in Jesus to save them. All that is required for eternal life in Heaven is that belief in the Lord Jesus Christ and acceptance that he died and rose again to save us sinners.

I could use a lot of keywords here as they appear in gospel tracts and literature, but I choose not to. Rather, I choose to just use my own words, because this message comes straight from my heart.

If you’ve never placed your trust in the sacrifice the Lord Jesus Christ made on your behalf, I urge you to do so today. It’s not some fancy ritual; rather, it’s the act of a sinner getting his heart right with God, talking to Him one-to-one in prayer as a child to a father. It’s a beautiful thing, and you’ll see Him someday in heaven.

If you live in Bismarck-Mandan, you are very statistically likely to attend church at least semi-regularly. Even if your attendance is spotty at best, today’s likely one of the days you do attend. But how many people, churchgoing and otherwise, realize the importance of this day?

Just like anything you possess, your soul has an owner’s manual: the Bible. If you haven’t read the owner’s manual, you don’t know how to fulfill God’s plan in you. And that plan was made ready on Easter.

I grew up Catholic. We were taught that we had to jump through all kinds of hoops, performing sacraments and that sort of thing, and could not know how to get to Heaven. Yet the theme of the entire Bible is that God gives us a way to return to him, repenting of our sins and confessing our belief in the sacrifice he made for us. That’s not just a few verses plucked out here and there to suit the message Christians want to hear. It is everywhere, in the Old and New Testaments.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9)

Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, ye rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (Romans 8:34)

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
(I Timothy 2:5-6)

Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
(Luke 24:45-47)

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (I Corinthians 15: 1-5,21-22)

People everywhere are trying to earn their way to heaven and work their way there. We are unable to do this. The Bible says that there are “none righteous, no, not one.” We’re all sinners. And there is one way to true life: repentance and faith in Jesus.

What did Paul, the apostle to the non-Jews, write to the church in Rome?

But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
(Romans 10:8-13)

That’s it. That’s how you are redeemed and have a new heart, a new life, and eternal life that no one can take from you. If you’re going to church and don’t believe the above, you might as well not go at all. Because if you pick and choose the parts of Christianity you want to believe, then you might as well throw the whole thing out. That’s not for you to choose.

So if you want the truth, pick up the King James Bible and read it. All of it. You’ll be surprised at the continuity of it and the things that you never knew were in there (and the things that are NOT in there!). If you don’t put your faith in the Bible, you have no reason to be part of a church that claims to profess Jesus, regardless of its denomination.

The Bible is very clear: to be a Christian means to believe by faith that you are a sinner and that Jesus Christ is the son of God, and that he died on the cross for your sins, and he rose again to fulfill the prophecies of the Bible. Ask God to apply that price that Jesus paid on your behalf. That’s it! The Bible is about faith and personal trust in God from the beginning all the way to the end.

Do the research. Find out for yourself what God’s word really means, don’t just take it for granted by hearsay or tradition. And trust in Christ this Easter day, and it truly will be a resurrection morning!