I came across an image a few days ago on Facebook, shared by my friend Jacquie. It was a screenshot from a CBS news story on the funeral of Jon Tumilson, a US Navy Seal who was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. The image shows Tumilson's casket, draped in an American flag. And on the floor lay his loyal companion Hawkeye, who was guarding his best friend one final time.
I cannot get this image out of my head. And each time I think about it, tears roll down my face. My heart breaks for Hawkeye, for Tumilson, for his family and friends. And I want to do something to make it all better... give Hawkeye a treat, or throw him a ball. Or just give him his friend back.
The logical side of my brain began searching for ways to help the dominant, highly emotional side of my brain. And it produced an idea. It won't help Hawkeye or Tumilson's family, but it may help other soldiers who love their pets as Tumilson loved Hawkeye. I tried to tell my husband about it, and all that came out between the tears and sobs was "soldier... pet... photos...". Gary's reaction was "Nope. Too sad". Which made me think that my idea is not sad at all. In fact, it is a very happy idea.
My idea is to have a mini portrait session for US Armed Forces members and their pets. I don't know the Where or the How or the Who... but the When will be on Veteran's Day, which is Friday, November 11th. The cost will be a donation to a favorite charity (for example, a bag of dog food to the local shelter) and in return, you will receive an 8x10 print. I am trying to find a way to say thank you to those men and women in uniform who risk their lives so that we may have freedom. And I am trying to find a way to say thank you to the faithful companions of these soldiers, who await their friend's safe return.
Since I have never done anything like this before, I am going to need lots of help. And ideas. Like where to hold this event, how to get the word out, etc... If you would like to help me say thank you to our soldiers and their furry friends, please send me an email at email@example.com or send me a message on my Facebook page.
You can read the story about Hawkeye here. Warning: grab a case of tissues.