I've lived a very Forrest Gump-ish life where I've always seemed to be in the right place at the right time to witness incredible events or be around amazingly inspiring people. Today I was watching "On the roam", a show created by Jason Mamoa where he documents his travels of tracking down artists, creators, musicians, artisans, and experts in their craft to not only share their stories but to ask them to create a unique piece of art that allows him to celebrate their friendship and stories. It's truly inspiring how he allows men to have a safe space to be vulnerable to express themselves; The show is filled with smiles, laughter, exclamations, raw childlike excitement, hugs, handshakes, and words of affirmation and praise to each other. THIS is how all men should be. Authentic and masculine, without the drudgery and pretense of having to impress each other with tales of domination and violence. Rather, they lift each other up by seeing each other as they truly are and celebrating it.
Until recently, I've never really realized what an impact past people have had on my life and I will be eternally grateful. I want to celebrate them, and if you're reading this... I urge you to celebrate YOUR inspirations with them NOW with them before you have to celebrate them as a memory. I've missed opportunities with several people and I'll only be able to remember them now; I don't have many regrets in life, but missing out celebrating them is definitely my biggest.
- Tom was my middle school science teacher and later my high school guidance counselor. Tom was very kind, compassionate, but also a very straight talker. He saw my potential and the struggles I endured in school and always showed me compassion and guidance. He had this confident yet gentle way about him, and he always wore this massive beard and these reading glasses...that timeless scholar look, but always well dressed and well groomed. A great male role model for me. I remember I was home on leave in the Army and I liked to visit my old mentors and friends back home in Michigan. I stopped into the high school one time to look him up and found out that he had died suddenly from a heart attack the previous year. I was stunned and felt like a dick for not knowing. I left feeling a little numb at that point, because that's the first time I'd encounter death where it impacted me directly. I carried on with life and think of him occassionally and silently thank him for his kindness.
- Albert was my 1st Sergeant when I was stationed at my very first permanent party duty assignment in Wildflecken, Germany. I didn't know much about the man, but at the time he was in his early 40's, from Alabama, and was a veteran of the Vietnam War (and carried the physical and emotional scars from it). He moved with a very slow, deliberate walk and he had a slight limp in one of his legs where it gave him a bit of swagger. He was well respected by anyone I had seen him interact with. He left an impression on me in the sense that I could tell he genuinely cared about the people that were in his charge. He had this way about him that when he explained concepts to us, he was able to remove race from the equation, make us all 'green', but left you with a sense that even though we are all different we are all the same. My last interaction with him was when I was going through BNCOC at the age of 21 and happened to be in the same local bar & grill just outside of Fort Leonardwood, MO. I had stopped in with my roommate (and squad leader at the time) and saw him sitting at the bar having a beer. I went up to him and offered my hand to him... he stood up, all 6'2" of his raily frame, took my hand and looked me in the eye and said "Moore. I almost didn't recognize you. You almost look like a man."... and we both laughed and shared a moment.
- Ken and I were in basic training and stationed together at our first post (in Germany) together. In the same company, he literally lived directly above me on the 2nd floor. He and I weren't friends immediately, but started hanging out because we were trauma bonded from basic traning (LoL). After some time, we became very close friends and did a lot of things together. But we didn't become brothers until we bonded during the Persian Gulf War. One of my favorite moments is we were sitting in his hooch and he opened a care package from his Dad. It was a bubble wrapped bottle of Jack Daniels. That was my first real taste of whiskey (since I was only 19 at the time). We sat in there, told stories, talked about our futures, and shared drinks together sitting in the middle of nowhere Iraq. Just two kids with no clue about life. After the war, we traveled Europe together as we had planned creating some fantastic memories and laughable moments and stories. Ken was killed August 7, 1998 during the terrorist bombing on the U.S. Embassy in Kenya. I've not been the same since. I miss him.
- Claire was my first muse. It was 1991 and I was 19 and freshly back from the Persian Gulf War. She was 27 and from Savannah, Georgia. A true Southern Belle, with a southern drawl mixed with a bit of uptown New York. A true redhead beauty in the classic sense with a smile and laugh that filled the room. I met her at the summer festival in Wildflecken and we hit off immediately. She brought out the Rennaisaince Man in me... teaching me to embrace my musical and artistic side I had stifled with my stoicism. Showing me how to love the smallest moments in life, such as stopping randomly at this giant field of sunflowers in the middle of Germany to take pictures and teaching me to frame a shot. She was spontaneous, intelligent, quick witted, beautiful, charming, and extremely talented in her craft. She will forever be my first. Claire died December 27, 2019 after a long battle with Multiple System Atrophy.
- Garold (or Giorgio) was a peer of mine when I was stationed at the Garrison MP company in Fort Leavenworth, KS (yes THAT Fort Leavenworth). I was new to the MP's (but had already been in the Army for 6 years and attained the rank of Staff Sergeant). Giorgio was a great friend and mentor who helped me become a better MP and taught me how to interact with people in an extremely diplomatic way. My last interaction with him was my going away party he threw at his house where we got ridiculously drunk and forgot to eat the BBQ ribs we had been cooking all day.
- Paul (or better known as 'Irish') was one of my first friends when I got out of the Army in 1997. We both worked at Copper Mountain Ski Resort and at the restaurant/bar combination in Frisco, CO (Barkley's, I think was the name). He was a waiter on the food side, and I was a bouncer on the club side. Bob Nance had introduced us since Paul was looking for a roommate and I was literally living in a 5th wheel in Leadville. Paul and I became fast friends as well, because he epitomized the term of "living authentically". I didn't realize it at the time, but that's exactly what he was doing. He gave zero fucks about anything except himself and his circle. He is an extremely charismatic and charming man, standing just over 6' with traditional Irish features. He is a man's man and carries himself as such. If there is anyone I've ever been able to call on and count on, it is him. Even though I suck as a friend, he always shows me grace and compassion. For that, I am forever grateful.
Dana Bargell and Dave Hunsinger
- I'm lumping these two together because they both gave me my first opportunity in I.T. I was working as a pipefitter in 1998 (fresh out of the Army) and was installing gas fireplaces with Irish and Leroy. I saw a job posting at the Frisco employment center that said "If you have these computer skills, give us a call." I had never realized that I could get a job like this, as computers were just a hobby for me at the time. I always thought I needed some fancy computer science degree to get into that line. Anyway, they hired me and taught me about I.T., customer service, and business in such a patient and understanding way. They were both no nonsense in their own way, but polar opposites in their personalities. Dave was very high strung but extremely intelligent in a STEM sort of way. Dana was more laid back (in kind of a bro way), but intelligent with a high business accumen. Both were great mentors and role models for me that helped launch my career.
- Mike was my first boss when I started at HP. I was still relatively new to IT, and had found that being a civilian was still a challenge for me. People who haven't served in the armed forces aren't wired the same. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, I'm just saying they're just different (or maybe it was me who was different). Mike was my first civilian mentor that showed me what a real manager with genuine empathy absolutely should be. To this day, I try to emulate his example anytime I'm in a leadership position. He had a soft quiet way about him, but was very articulate, well spoken, and had a way about how he spoke that you heard him while he also heard you.