“I first saw Tom Herr’s Liberty and Justice on an online fly tying forum. I was not only impressed by the skill, but more-so the purpose. Here is Tom’s story of one special serviceman and a challenge to all of us.”- KH
My most vivid memory of him occurred after he returned home for leave. I was sitting out back by the pine tree reading. I knew he stopped in for a visit since his car was in the driveway but the note on the table is what really gave it away. He and my son were down at the pond fishing for bass and they would be back around dark. The two of them loved to spend time fishing, however there was not much time for them to do it now, with him being in the service and all. But when he would come home, this is where the two of them would always find time to go. So, I hurried out with the book and sat and waited for them to show on the rise in the field when they returned. I couldn’t wait to see him.
His friendship was a close one with my son over the years and they shared a lot of good times, as well as some of the bad. While he was in Afghanistan – we would get word from him that he was fine and all was well – something I’m sure all Marines tell family and friends at home to ease their concerns. We would send him care packages periodically to give him and his buddy’s a bit of home – something for them to remember. And a few times he would call from the ship – something that we cherished and something – I’m sure his own parents relished.
The first sight of the two of them came close to dark – just as the note said. As they grew closer – I couldn’t believe how he had changed. We hugged and talked and the respect that we shared was truly mutual. I could tell there were things he did not want to recall, and I did not press. It was just good to have him in our presence once again.
This whole thing began around 5 years ago when I sat down at the bench to begin tying a classic Atlantic that I wanted to be something special – one that I would later frame and give to the parents of a young man who was currently serving in the military. This one wasn’t for Eric or his family because he hadn’t yet left – instead it was for a family of a marine who never returned and who I barely knew. I wanted to do something for them…Something to hopefully show my appreciation. The first, second, and third one I threw away because it just did not show what I wanted it to show. The fourth one materialized and along with it I tied a wet with the same colors, framed them both and one day presented it to them. The appreciation they showed to me for taking the time was something I will never forget.
Since that time I have tied numerous pairs of the patterns I call Liberty and Justice, framed them and given them to not only servicemen, but also to the parents and families of servicemen in the military. And I say this not to receive any kudos because that’s not what this is about. It’s about giving back and showing our appreciation for those brave young men and women who make the conscious decision to risk their lives to keep us free. All servicemen and women are true Heros and their unselfish time served to keep our country free and safe should always be remembered.
So consider this a challenge to those of you who tie the classic (or not so classic) patterns, build rods, or whatever your passion. The next time you sit down at the bench, begin to think of a way to honor someone through your craft. Open your imagination up and think of how the colors of our country can show your appreciation to those brave men and women who not only currently serve but also those who have served in the past. We all know someone who we can do this for – not only for the veterans who live their memories late in life and those who have just returned. There are also the many families who have given so much dealing with the daily worry and concern while their loved ones are so far away. Although I have sat in front of a vice for many years now, I am far from being proficient in tying the classics but it really doesn’t matter. I take my time and do the best I can. The end result that is put into a frame may not be perfect to your standards but know when you present it to them, it will be from your heart and will be a way of showing to them just how much they are appreciated.
It’s the very least we can do to show our appreciation. The time you spend doing this is so very miniscule when compared to what they have sacrificed to give us the freedom we experience today and is a small way to recognize our servicemen and women.