Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Colonel Ironarm

Ah yo fahnilly done with dem two? The man stood just off the path and asked me this question as if we had been friends for years. He spoke with a southern twang, as if the words from Zora Neale Hurston’s book Their Eyes Were Watching God sprung up off the pages and drifted into the cold air that stood between us. I looked around to make sure he was speaking to me. I had just finished an engagement session and parted ways with the couple, and while I noticed the homeless man watching me throughout the shoot, I didn’t think he would stop and talk to me.

Yes, I’m finally done with them! We had such a great time.
Then, out of nowhere, he asks, Yo wahna be mah screen savah? Here, lit meh sho yo… The man reached into his pocket and pulled out a cell phone. He asked again if I wanted to be his screen saver. I agreed only on the condition that I’d be able to take his picture as well.

So there we stood. Two strangers from very different worlds capturing each other through the same medium.

In his shopping cart were blankets and clothing and what I assume are the only things belonging to his identity. I asked him his name. Mah name’s Colonel Ironarm, he said with a proper salute, leaving his right arm diagonally extended just long enough for me to know he had plenty experience saluting. He went onto to explain that he served in the Navy during Vietnam and, he guesses, fell onto some hard times when he got back to the States. We spoke for a few minutes. Once the rain began to fall a little harder, I said I better get going. I fished for whatever cash I had and told him to get something hot to eat. He thanked me profusely then said, Ah nevah got yo name…was yo name? I told him my name and said it was honor to shake a man’s hand who defended this country with honor.

When I finally got to my car, I shook the rain droplets from my hair, but had a harder time shaking off the sense of melancholy that rested so heavily on my shoulders.

I usually keep this blog politics free, but I just want to remind people the next time you see a soldier or a serviceman, be sure to thank them. Regardless of the issues belying the war in Iraq, there are women and men who are fighting to protect and reserve our freedoms to both support and oppose the war. What a beautiful thing.

Colonel Ironarm, even though you’ll never read this, thank YOU for your service to this country…



Blogger Eric McCarty said...

Good stuff. VERY good stuff.

1:23 PM  
Blogger My Sacred Corazon said...

Great shot to go with a great story.

3:23 PM  
Blogger Brett Austin said...

Great story Jasmine. People in the armed services deserve a ton of respect and gratitude... especially if they've been through a war!

Thanks for the reminder.

4:05 PM  
Blogger Paige Kearin said...

Beautifully written. I love how you can take an ordinary experience and turn it extrodinary. That's a gift you have...and something I'm trying to get better at doing. Thanks for sharing. On another note...interesting world we live in where even homeless people have cell phones. It's a crazy world. It leaves me wondering...who pays his cell phone bill? Hmmm...

7:34 PM  
Blogger Holritz Photography said...


Your blog makes me so happy. Everything that comes out of your fingertips like candy. It is almost unfair that you can be so beautiful, speak so beautifully, and have such a beautiful heart.

Love for you. Lots of it.


7:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jasmine, I have visited your blog for about the last couple of weeks after realizing the beautiful model in all of those images that Jessica Claire and every other amazing photographer has taken of you was also a photographer! And I also must say a writer! This entry brought tears to my eyes. What a blessing your writing and photography brings to others! Keep up the incredible work. I bet you can make one awesome wedding album with your photography and writing skills

8:59 PM  
Blogger Steven Kang said...

Hi Jasmine,
you have gift and your using it very well. I'm sure your Dad is very very very proud of you.
Beautiful story, which is only possible from someone with beautiful heart like yourself.
Great Job!!!!!!!!!!!!!
p.s. I wonder about samething as Paige kearin, who pays for his cell phone and who does he call???

10:04 PM  
Blogger D Baker Photography said...

First off, this was very well written, as if I was in the middle of novel. Secondly, I think you made a very good point. However, one would say, Homeless and a cell phone? Great entry, love your work. Oh, did I see you in my latest Matilda Jane Catalog? :)

7:04 AM  
Blogger Jasmine said...

Hi guys...thanks for the feedback! :)
I don't know if this is the Colonel's case, but I do know that concerned children or family member will get someone a cell phone just to check-in and see if everything's okay. Or, well, as okay as can be. :)
Happy reading...

8:08 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Great blog Jasmine, thanks for sharing!

9:25 AM  
Blogger Christopher Grisanti said...

I feel privileged to know you, Jasmine. What a cool story. And I'm sure you'll make a great screensaver!

11:09 AM  
Blogger Jen Manuele said...

so sweet. i am touched and my day better after reading your blog. thank you Jasmine for the reminder.

5:22 PM  
Blogger Miguel & Maral said...

I don't know what to say. I have felt that melancholy you felt. It always comes with a question: have I done enough with my life?

Some people, whether they wanted to or not, experience so much, and I wonder if I am missing out. Don't know.

One thing is for sure. Thank the servicemembers. Most of them are just doing their job. At 18 years of age, they don't understand politics, but they understand duty and service to their country.

Thank you Jasmine for your thoughts. And thanks to the servicemembers who allow us to publish whatever we want freely.

7:30 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hey jasmine,
You have never met me but I am a friend of Crystal's and was on her blog and yada yada ya...found yours and now I find myself spending my time reading into other people's lives and not getting my own work done. this stuff can be sooo addicting. Anyhoo, to make a long story short...too late already I know...your stuff is amazing and your documentary lets us be there with you...BUT this one literally made me cry...not out of pity for the man...I do not posess the words to say why...this embellishes what photojournalism is all about...embellishes what being a human on the planet with other humans is all about. You captured it all!
KUDOS girl!!!

ps love the new man in your life!
Lisa :)

8:53 PM  
Anonymous Tracy said...

I couldn't agree more, we must always support our troops past and present and recognize the sacrifice they and their families are making for all of us!

11:04 AM  

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