I was shooting photos of SpringStreet Bluegrass Band at this year’s Claremore Bluegrass & Chili Festival, doing my thing, moving through the crowd and trying to get some shots of the band from the audience. I had made my way around the perimeter and was heading back towards the stage when Eric Campbell started to sing the old Statler Brothers song "More Than a Name on a Wall". This song almost always brings me to tears- so powerful and beautiful.
As I surveyed my surroundings through the camera lens, I noticed this man standing respectfully with his hands clasped in front of him. Upon further inspection, I realized he was wearing a Vietnam veteran's hat. My throat tightened immediately as tears sprang to my eyes. That was my era. I quickly snapped a few shots of him, trying to remain respectful from a distance.
When the song was finished, he returned to his seat. I knew he had seen me taking his picture, and went over to thank him for his service to our beloved country. However, as soon as I started towards him I knew if I said even one word to him I would start to cry in earnest. He looked up as I approached, and when I reached his seat all I could do was clasp his hand and squeeze it. He said, "Thank you". I opened my mouth to say, "No Sir. Thank you.", but no words would come. So I simply squeezed his hand again to convey my gratitude.
This. This is why I do what I do. It was by far the most precious moment of the festival for me. Thank you, Sir.