Stromquist and Company would like to take this time to say “Thank You”. Thank you to all of our military veterans and veterans throughout the country and the world. We would like to thank all those who have and those who are still serving our country this Memorial Day. I especially would like to dedicate the following article to Stromquist employees: Paul Eskin (U.S. Marines), Mark Gerety (U.S. Army 1980’s), Randy Hereford (U.S. Army Airborne Viet Nam Purple Heart), Matt Koenig (U.S. Army Combat Engineers 1990’S),Oscar Hansen (U.S. Coast Guard), Paul Morin (U.S. Army), and my nephew Nick who has served in Iraq and is still serving in Afghanistan on his last of five tours of duty as a combat Marine. Take the time to say thank you. We are grateful. I hope you enjoy the article.
A Memorial Ride
The early morning sun starts lifting itself above the horizon, the exhausts of my motorcycle are warm too warm to touch but warm enough to hear the tones of the engine’s song. A burst of golden light in the form of fine silk threads streak through the purplish grey morning clouds filling my eyes with colors beyond description. The universe has opened itself to me as I let off the throttle just a little bit just to take the splendor of it all in. This wonder does not last very long but I am going to enjoy every sparkle of this light show as its reflections dance across the polished chrome and paint of the motorcycle’s gas tank.
The slight chill in the air is fine by me knowing that when the sun comes up in its full glory it will bath me in the light of warmth. I open the throttle back to where the motorcycle is feeling strong and exciting to me. Time and distance seem to melt away along with any other thoughts that have nothing to do with the ride that I am experiencing. Smaller objects in the distance are becoming larger and the larger items that pass by me become smaller and smaller until they disappear in the blur of distance.
The massive over hanging oak trees are glittering with different shades of green leaves and mixed in between is the agelessness of the old Spanish moss hanging down like great beards of grey color. The trunks of the oak trees are a mixture of soft hues of brown to deep blacks forming never ending trails through the bark that reminds me of the road that the motorcycle is traveling on. A turn to the left, a turn to the right, and a slight straight away keeps me on the road through my mind and the next small town ahead.
I slow down the motorcycle down even though I do not see a speed limit sign as I approach the small town. The town seems deserted. I see no one driving down the streets or walking the over grown weed infested sidewalk passing through what I perceive as Main Street. I stop the bike in the mangled looking parking lot of a broken down gas station. The gas pumps have been uprooted from the broken up concrete slab that once held them. The bolts that bound the pumps to the concrete have turned to just a fine power of rust and the cracks of the concrete are filled with weeds and ants carrying out their daily activities. Still I have seen no one come through this small desolate Alabama town.
The more I looked around this town the more I saw. I now focused on what made me stop at this gas station to start with. Lining the streets are dilapidated old houses most with tired peeling paint and several with signs of self destruction. The view reminds me of some landscape from a previously read horror book. This is a sad town one that seems to have been lost. Lost in history and from the minds of all those who once lived in this small town except for one thing. The flags. Small American flags on the edge of every driveway approaching each house and pressed deep into the ground. I walked across the street to look closer. Each small flag had a cross and when I read the short painful words on the cross tears came to my eyes. The words on the signs were saddest words ever written. Each cross and flag was a marker for each man in the town who had died in war. The man’s name, his age, and the war he served in were placed on the marker, hand written in black paint on a simple white cross. As I cross the street to continue my journey I notice a couple of vehicles coming down the road and I snap a photograph to remember the site, as if I could ever forget it.
I get on the motorcycle whispering a small prayer in my mind for this small town never wanting to forget this small town or what this town gave up for me to be able to continue down the road and enjoy THE RIDE.