|Damaged trees along the Quinebaug River on |
Old Sturbridge Village Road.
Now, the reason I take my camera with me is to record the events of the day here in town. Today it's the present, the happening now, and tomorrow, on Wednesday, it will be history.
We will always need to record the present in order to have an accurate history. That's the way it has been since we drew on cave walls. There have been times in our history that there have been folks that have actually tried to stop the recording of history, mostly for political purposes. Expect it. That will always happen, but in a free country. There should never be a reason to stop a person from recording history, or current events in the United States. I am not talking about paparazzi, or people crossing the line and invading the space of people in disaster. That is a different story. I am talking about surveying aftermath of a storm, and recording it for posterity just as the Hurricane of 1938 was recorded, the floods of the 1950's were recorded, and the Blizzard of '78 was recorded. Nothing more.
So imagine my surprise when I parked my car on the side of old Route 15, and walked over to the front of the Days Inn with my camera. I had just driven down the Publick House Road beside the motel, parked in several places, and had taken photographs, and was now approaching the corner of the Publick House Road, and Haynes Street with my camera. As I approached, two National Guard soldiers approached me, and asked what I was doing. I told them I was taking photographs of storm damage in my town. The sergeant then told me that the "state does not want pictures taken".
I'm sorry, say what? I asked her if she was saying I could not take photographs of the storm damage, and she said, "That is not what I am saying. I am saying that the state does not want pictures taken. They want people to respect those that have had a loss".
That goes without saying. Respect for those that have suffered any kind of loss is paramount, but I am not taking photographs of people, I am taking photographs of broken trees, and the front of a broken building.
The sergeant stepped back, nodded, and thanked me for understanding.
I smiled back and started to walk down the Publick House Road. A few steps down the road I was called by a Sturbridge Police officer leaning on a motorcycle in the parking lot of the Days Inn. I walked over to the officer, some 50 feet away from the road, in the driveway of the motel. He asked me where I was going. I told him. He asked me what I was doing. I told him that, too. He then told me, "OK, but stay out of everyones way, and stay on the road, not on private property". Except for the two soldiers, the officer, and a couple of workers on the roof of the motel, there was nobody else around. Nobody. I would not be in any ones way, and would remain on the road, I assured the officer.
They all may have been awkward in saying it, but I knew where they were coming from. Respect those that have lost the world around them. Don't put camera lenses in their faces, or bother them with asinine questions like, "What are you most thankful for after the tornado now that your car is on its roof, your house flattened and your dog missing?"