Did you take a picture?

A few weeks ago a friend of mine sent me a letter, and inside was a picture of us standing together at some unknown location, at least 20 years ago. I say the spot is unknown, but there are clues. It's a heavily wooded area, probably springtime, and in the picture is a historical marker – an interpretive plaque really – with a picture that I know to be a classic drawing of Confederate General N.B. Forrest. My buddy is somewhat of an expert on Forrest, and it dawned on me that this picture was likely from a trip we took to see Fort Pillow (Tennessee) back in the early 1990s. After talking with my friend, he agrees that this glimpse back at our younger selves is, indeed, from that day when we took on tall weeds and biting insects to traipse back into the woods.

Stirling, Scotland
 But this experience, and a few others – to be quite honest – have taught me that it's important to label these photographs. I'm not so old that I'm victim yet to the memory loss that my father claims will soon enough appear, but I am one of those guys who took advantage of the digital era, and took so many pictures that even I may be confused when looking at certain photos. I will admit that I once was looking at what I thought was a view of the riverside in Kortrijk, Belgium, only to realize that the background was wrong. As I took a look at other pictures in that particular folder, it was obvious that this was actually a view taken at a spot at the Battle of Westport, in what's now Kansas City, Missouri. Now, the lesson that I've learned, and hopefully not too late, is that it will be to my benefit to go through my old photo albums, as well as my digital folders, and at least make general notes.

When my days of hiking over these fields of honor have fallen victim to bad knees or just simple old age, I will surely want to look back. And the truth is that even with my great memory of today, it's almost impossible to instantly recognize every picture I've ever taken on a battlefield. Without perspective so many places look alike, and so many memories become clouded. Once again, experience is the best teacher, and pretty soon I'll set aside a couple days to document these photographs as they should be. Don't forget your camera when you go out, and take a few fun pictures, too. After all, aren't these photos truly memories, as well as stories?