Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Salute To Service

This past Thursday evening supporters of Trout Unlimited and our Veterans Service Partnership gathered in Washington, DC in the palatial law office of Arnold & Porter to salute the service of our nation’s veterans.
Our 3rd annual fundraising dinner began with a Presentation of the Colors by the US Navy Ceremonial Guard and a beautiful rendition of our National Anthem sung by MUC Yolanda Pelzer of the US Navy Band.  As our 200 honored guests settled in for a great meal they were treated to comments by Chris Wood, our President and CEO, and following Chris I had the honor of introducing Adm. Dennis Blair (former Director of National Intelligence) and Mr. Jeffrey Smith (Senior partner at Arnold & Porter and former General Council of the CIA), our co-hosts for the evening.

Following their inspirational remarks, I introduced our Guest Speaker, former Army Ranger Capt. Chris Yasher.  At each year’s event we strive to have as our speaker a veteran that has experienced first-hand the healing and rehabilitation that our program provides and we could not have done better than having Chris address us this year.  Chris’ story was representative of the commitment to service and sacrifice that we honored throughout the evening.
The evening concluded with a rousing live auction that augmented the funds raised through the silent auction and the many raffles.  My thanks to every attendee and to every vendor (like Scott Hunter from Vedavoo on the left)that donated items for the auctions.  With the funds raised on Thursday evening we are assured that our work with veterans will continue to expand and thrive.

Winter Music

Anyone that has hunted ducks or geese with any seriousness at all has heard about the great hunting to be had on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  The town of Easton, MD is right up there with Stuttgart, AR as far as waterfowl hunting goes.
Well, this past weekend I participated in a “Train the Trainer” seminar put on by Project Healing Waters.  The event was put together to give interested volunteers the information and training that they will need to organize and run a local program for disabled veterans.  As Ryan and I have been planning the same sort of event for the southeastern US, I though it a good idea to attend and compare notes.  The event was held a Point Pleasant , just outside of St. Michaels, MD.

It was a 12 hour drive for me so I was really hoping that it would be worth the effort.  Mapquest told me that it was a 10 hour dive, but they didn’t take into account that I would be hitting the DC Beltway at 4PM.  How do those people stand this!  I spent two hours in stop and go traffic.
It was dark and raining when I finally pulled into town so I saw nothing of the fabled Eastern Shore.

I awoke to misting rain and fog.  Breakfast was scheduled at 8AM at the lodge.  This place was amazing.  Formally owned by the DuPont family as a private hunting and fishing preserve, it encompasses 1,000 acres with 7 miles of shoreline on the Chesapeake Bay.  When I exited my car at the lodge I heard the music.
While others were bemoaning the lack of warmth and sunshine (keep in mind that these were all fishermen) I was relishing the “atmospherics.”  As soon as my car door opened I heard it.  What must have been 10,000 Canada Geese and who know how many ducks were engaged in the chorus that brings goose bumps (can’t believe I said that) to a wingshooter.  And the weather?  This was no “Bluebird Day” with nothing flying but songbirds – it was the sort of day with the cacophony of sight and sound that waterfowl hunters dream of.  It brought back memories of the Great Salt Plains area that Roger and I used to hunt in north central Oklahoma.  Throughout the day the sky was alive with birds.  Birds that continually distracted me from the subject at hand, and birds that western North Carolina, for the most part, is devoid of.

I have been invited back, and given the chance, I’ll do it.  But I’ll avoid the Beltway, and I’ll have my trusty 12 gauge with me.