Thursday, January 14, 2016

Sergeant Reckless

A wonderful thing happened on the way to Florida...  We visited the National Marine Corps Museum! in Virginia (Dec 19).  It's absolutely free, there's plenty of parking and it's open every day except Christmas.  [Ahem: Closed thru March 2016, to hang a Dauntless.]  Once we drove in the main entrance, we turned hard left and went up a gentle hill.
It was a snapping cold day and we had the place to ourselves.  In this opening shot there is a great deal: the stone walls, the top of the museum just showing through the leafless trees -- it looks like a strange upside-down funnel -- and, just in front of it here, a stone plinth with a statue.  I for one was pleasantly surprised.
I had not expected dogs here, let alone such noble depictions of them.  I'm sorry to say I don't know the sculptor/sculptress of this bronze beauty.
What a great honor guard!
This lovely animal certainly set the tone of our visit.
He is forever on guard, in a most appropriate spot.
There was another dog statue not far away.  (Museum roof in background.)
There is that in me which can freely admire these magnificent animals.  My husband is deeply afraid of them, and as a result I have almost no contact with the real thing.  Yet this amazing guardian struck me as very realistic.
Two dogs down, we wandered slowly along the forested walk.   Everywhere were monuments, obelisks, tombstones and statues of soldiers and the gear of war.  The very bricks lining the walk had names on them.  I kept looking around.  I had tried very hard to locate exactly where on the grounds the famous statue of Sergeant Reckless was, but without success.  We walked for what seemed a couple of furlongs... it was very cold.
 In the same quadrant as Caesar the dog was a stone chapel and a ship's bell.  I was pleased by the bell but did not dare ring it!  Solemnity is easier when it's cold...
There is another connection in my life with the Marines:  the band.  (I was a music major, trombone.)  Coming round another corner I spotted a musician's memorial.  Again I was pleasantly surprised...  (and this was before I got inside, where I discovered much MUCH more about the Marine Band.  But I digress.)
Where the dickens was that horse??!!!?  It was cold... and we'd almost reached the point where we could see everything there was to see on this walk.  She had to be here!  And then it happened:  a quick glimpse of a distant shape and suddenly I felt warm.
(I struggled with this one in PhotoShop.)
There!  In the distance, down by the road.

With success sure, I settled down to enjoy the rest of our outdoor walk.  I was seeing things I hadn't known existed, such as methods for engraving marble that looked for all the world like photo-transfers.
The Museum is in the midst of installing 9-11 memorials.  Here is one of them, containing actual material from the site:
In such a place, surrounded by monuments and tombstones, by memories and history and deeds, it helps to 'focus down' on just a few.  "Find yourself some words and take 'em home."  One of my favorites was this 1967-1968 stone.
I would have changed the wording a tiny bit (pass instead of pass on, to eliminate the double on) but it certainly works as is.
Finally in the right frame of mind, I stood in front of it and turned to the right.  And there she was.
It was a good setting and a good preparing, all those monuments.  She is solemn, herself a memorial.  The whole place is a temple, an outdoor temple, something I had only read about up to this point.
Big as life!  a good deal larger.
The lighting was excellent.  As a photographer, I struggled to keep my batteries warm.
Of course Versalox was having the time of her life.  Every model in my herd -- if they are lucky -- gets one moment -- an encounter, an episode -- that defines them forever.  This was hers.
 I had read the book, and knew that the author, Robin L. Hutton, had scratched her initials on the statue close to the near hind hoof during the wax stage.  I found them.  (Just below Versalox' front feet, with a heart.)
People (not me) had laid roses on this bronze.
The sculptress is Jocelyn Russell.
I have mentioned the light.  I couldn't help but notice that the shadow of Reckless was tremendously photogenic.  Time was passing, the light was changing, and everybody wanted to get inside where it was warm.  But this chance was perfect and I could not pass it up.  "Paso Por Aqui" -- passed by here -- So this is my triple portrait of the three of us:
Taken twice because both angles were good.
Rest in peace, my lady.


Oh and it was a GREAT museum - !!  Everybody ought to go to this one:  it's absolutely free, there's plenty of parking and it's open every day except Christmas [but closed thru March 2016 to hang that Dauntless]...


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