The week is full of moments. Had one yesterday after the Garand and Vintage matches. As soon as we quit shooting the sun came out, the wind stopped blowing, (hmmmmm...maybe SHOOTING causes this...) and we gathered at Petrarca Range house for the awards. Gary Anderson, the Director of Civilian Marksmanship presided and gave away Garand, Springfield, Carbine and Vintage trophies. Justin Utley won the Vintage Match with one of the K31s we bought. 290. When Justin was shooting his 290 I was on the next firing point shooting a 289 for fourth place in the Springfield match and Rick Crawford was on the NEXT firing point shooting a 287....with a saved round (minus ten points). If Rick hadn't saved a round he would have easily set a new National Springfield record. 293 won the match.
At the end of the awards they brought out the M1s-for-Vets group. This group tries to match donated M1 Garands with disabled vets. About 12 of them came and shot this year at the matches. They got up front, two in wheelchairs, a couple with canes, one guy missing a hand. Young men in their 20s. They introduced them and the crowd stood up whooping and hollering and clapping and WOULDN'T sit down or stop. It rolled on and on and on. Nearly everyone had tears rolling down their cheeks, both the young men and the crowd.
These young men belong to the American gun culture. Think about Henry Gates and Officer Crowley. You think Gates, the highly paid Harvard professor KNOWS a soldier, or anyone with a soldier in the family? I doubt it. Officer Crowley on the other hand probably doesn't know anyone who wasn't a soldier, has a kid in the Marines or Army. I'll go a little farther: Gates knows victims. And he knows the rest of us are racists.
These young men who have all suffered as only soldiers suffer and lost things important to any human, THEY aren't victims. Or racists, I would bet.
These young men got it yesterday. Some of them looked embarrassed or confused, many were having trouble controlling their faces as the crowd poured out their love for them cheering and clapping. On and on and on. I think they got it.
There's a Camp Perry moment for you.