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Memorial Day Outside of Black & White

Yesterday I was in Washington, DC, for Rolling Thunder.  A million motorcycles parading by is a far cry from the bucolic setting that most of us seek out as part of our fly fishing. But it was quite the sight, quite the sound, and quite the scene. The purpose of the event made it even more profound.

I’m hardly the super-patriot, but I’m also incredibly thankful that I live in the United States.

I’m often critical, but I don’t think it is appropriate to shame people for enjoying a day off of work.

I’m very, very appreciative of our veterans, but Memorial Day is about something different.

If you read Casting Across, you’re probably in it for the fly fishing. I don’t want to disappoint, but it is about the culture surrounding fly fishing as well. Frequently I point out how polarizing little things in our sport can be: strike indicators, keeping fish wet, and other silly little minutiae. That mindset comes from somewhere. That mindset has greater implications than just fishing.

As people, we like that. Ironically, given the state of subjectivity that is pushing the needle of culture, our society still likes binary labels of good and bad. Nothing in the middle; no shades of gray. There are only black hats and white hats. Thinking the Civil War, Vietnam, or today’s conflicts, we take the same approach. It is easy to paint red and blue politicians as good or bad. Perhaps out of convenience, we take the same tactic when thinking about the  men and women who are out on the front lines. Even in death, they get lumped in with all of the other flotsam that swirls around the messiness that is war.

I’d say that’s too easy. I’d say that’s wrong.

If today you find yourself fishing, grilling, or mourning, I hope that Memorial Day is on your mind in a way that allows you to focus on the men and women who have given all they could give. Irrespective of politics or personal convictions, countless members of our military  have paid the ultimate price for us. So that we can do largely whatever we want to do – even just fly fish.

Have a safe and blessed Memorial Day.


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