I’m a Boot Nerd

The Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Part 2 premier has been making headlines all over the world. A whole generation of youngsters has grown up with Harry, and now, as he faces the end so must we.

So here I am outside the local theater, awaiting midnight and the beginning of the end. Crowds of people twisted their way through lines that went all the way out the door. I’m dressed up as Tonks, the spunky Auror (Dark Wizard Catcher).

Waiting for the movie to start is probably the best part of the experience. People are walking around dressed up as Dobby, Snape, and Hagrid and erupting into enthusiastic renditions of songs from A Very Potter Musical such as “I’ve gotta get back to Hogwarts” and “I’m Harry Freaking Potter.”It’s wonderful! It’s great having a crowd of people just seem to understand one another. Sing one line of “Voldemort is going down” and you’ve instantly become the friend of the person next to you.

This is probably the nerdiest way possible to support our troops, wearing boots to the midnight premier of Deathly Hallows. But hey, they went well with my cloak.

I don’t see why people think the term “nerd” is insulting. Nerds get excited about stuff, it’s just what they do. So, someone saying you’re a nerd is like saying, “You like stuff a lot. You get super excited about the human capacity of ingenuity.”

So, I guess that means I’m a Boot Nerd too, because I’m super excited to support our troops!

Once inside the theater, we read the closing chapters of Deathly Hallows by wand-light. Seeing the theater fill up, I was amazing at how Harry’s story had touched the lives of so many people. Stories are powerful. What made me care so much about the Boot Campaign was reading Marcus Luttrell’s story, Lone Survivor. They stay with you, they make you see the world differently. I couldn’t help but think that maybe someday, the Boot Campaign could have such an audience for soldiers’ stories. Maybe someday there would be a bunch of Boot Nerds walking around excited to show their appreciation.

Nerds Unite! Big things start out small, like the boy in the cupboard beneath the stairs.

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These boots were made for walkin’

On vacation with my family I wore my Boot Campaign combat boots for two and a half weeks  in five different states, ten museums, fifty different cities, on land, and at sea.

Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, Virginia  is open to the public largely due to restoration work by veterans. This battleship was involved in the first Gulf War.

I was very happy to be able to spread some love for our soldiers around the country. The veterans and soldiers that I was able to briefly talk with were a blessing to me, knowing that The Boot Campaign is making a difference in ways small and large.

But  you know what, after all the adventures, walking through history, and beach time … I’m so glad to be back in Texas.

Where the SEALS began

My family and I are lounging on the beach at Ocracoke, North Carolina, and I look around me at the vacant shore and miles of sand and think, “This would be the perfect place to train Navy SEALS.”

I mean, look at all this beach, just miles and miles of it, not to mention the little surrounding islands, like Portsmouth, which is a ghost town and is uninhabited.

Come to find out from talking with a local, the Navy SEALS practically began here in World War II! There was a Navy base on Ocracoke in the 1940’s and from there stemmed the training of Beach Jumpers, an amphibious stealth force. They trained secretly then were sent over to the Pacific for combat. These Beach Jumpers were the beginning of the Navy SEALS we are honored to know today. The Navy base was disassembled shortly after the war ended, but there’s a memorial honoring the Beach Jumpers on the way to our favorite beach spot.

The Ocracokers can tell you some really awesome stuff about the island. It’s full of history! They can tell you where Blackbeard anchored his ship, about the British Cemetary , and German U-boats, all sorts of stuff, but the only problem is they are so hard to understand. They kind of sound like Australians, but they finish their words in a hurry.

But if you ask a local and listen really diligently, you can get an earful of the colorful history of the North Carolinian island.

Pirate Boot-y

On the second leg of our family adventure we are staying on Ocracoke Island, favorite hangout spot of the insidious pirate Blackbeard! They found his ship in this area, proving he is far more than old mermaid’s tales. Even now, Ocracoke is remote and (blissfully) is not crowded, even on the beaches.

So while everybody else is wearing sandals, I’ve got my boots on! This is in honor of all of those servicemen and women who fight for me, but can’t be on vacation right now. Wish you were here!

Notice how there is nobody in the background, and look at all those shells! So Blackbeard, in my book, had choice real-estate.

Even though I’m here, I kind of miss the lovely ladies of the Boot Campaign office.

But right now, I’m gonna be a pirate. Look! I’ve already found some doubloons!

And check this out! Multiply this by twenty and you’ve got our total shell collection.

Man, I wish I had a pedometer

Ok, so I’m pretty sure over the past couple of days I’ve walked a gazillion miles. These boots have been making tracks!

Here are my boots at Mt. Vernon. The back yard has the best springy grass! Perfect for afternoon naps!

This is where we ate in Alexandria: Bilbo Baggins!!! Yeah, I squealed when we found it. But the funny thing is that the tables are set up really high so when your waiter come up he looks short, like a hobbit.

“I am a hobbit in every way but size” – J.R.R. Tolkien.

Supreme Court building! There are some steps further up that apparently you aren’t supposed to stand on, because I got in trouble. But the cop that came up to me asked if I was in the Corps (I assumed Marines because my boots are from that branch). I replied no, I’m with the Boot Campaign! And he said that he had boots exactly like mine when he was in the Corps.  So, it was nice to meet you Mr. Policeman, thank you for serving our country!

Next is the Capitol. This place is HUGE! When I was a junior in high school my class did a midnight tour with Louie Gohmert. He’s really nice… I wonder if he’s got his boots on…

Ok… I don’t know if you’ve figured this out yet, but I’m a super duper book nerd. I’m moving into the Library of Congress, packing up everything and moving here.

And then! Tadaaaaa! The National Gallery of Art! My boots squeaked a lot on the polished floor haha

  My favorite medium of art is probably marble. I love sculptures! It’s three dimensions of awesome! The have just halls and halls of sculpted marble… gives me shivers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite periods is French Neoclassicism. Pretty colors, very romantic. I could spend DAYS in this museum, but we didn’t have much time.

I wanted to pull a “Claudia and Jamie,” like in the book From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. The children run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and hide in the bathroom until all of the security guards leave. Once everyone is gone they come out, bathe in the fountain, and sleep in Louie XVI’s bed. Every time I go to a museum I kind of see it through Claudia’s and Jamie’s eyes, as if I’m picking out a room of my own. My room in the National Gallery is the Degas room, full of his ballerinas.

Capitol Idea

My family and I are in D.C. this week for vacation. Today was our major walking day around the city, so of course I had my boots on. Here’s a pic taken at the WWII Memorial:

Here is a section on the memorial that honors Texans who served in WWII.

There is a panel on the way to the WWII Memorial that depicted women assisting on the homefront and guess what… they’re in boots. Nice to see there were past boot girls.

The Women’s Memorial at the Vietnam Memorial showed female nurses with their boots on.

And this is why I’ve got my boots on, because freedom isn’t free.

Homeland and Hay bales

I think this city girl got her first chigger bite, but my friend and I invented a new sport.  Hay bale Hopping!

Rules: Don’t fall and break your leg. Just think of it as the”The Floor is Lava” game.

I think the best summer adventures derive from asking a simple question: What would Scout Finch do?

You remember To Kill a Mockingbird, right? You know, that book you probably didn’t read in high school but wrote a paper on? That is actually one of my favorite books. I make a point of re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird every couple of years to remind myself to see the world the way Scout does, with excited curiosity. And to hear Atticus wisely explain, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

What I love about The Boot Campaign is that they’ve internalized Atticus’ idea of walking around in someone else’s shoes and learning from an alternate perspective. I put on my boots every morning knowing that all over the world there are thousands of soldiers in boots like mine walking around, and thousands of perspectives I can learn and benefit from.

 So I can hop from hay bale to hay bale and begin to understand why soldiers would want to protect this land, the beauty in it, and their loved ones who live on it.  This is my home, my land, my big Texas sky. This is what I love and need like my life’s blood. Though I don’t have the strength or training to protect it, I  am extremely grateful to those who do. That’s why I’ve got my boots on.

Survivor

You, yes you, stop whatever you’re doing and read this book.

Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s amazing to hear the perspective of a Navy SEAL. He gives an insight of what it takes to be a SEAL, what it means to be a SEAL, and what it feels like to be the only surviving SEAL of Operation Redwing.

To hear a soldier’s story in such a personal and conversational way was an electric wake up call. I hadn’t forgotten the war exactly, but it was sort of in the back of my mind like a test that was a month away, a battle between people I would never know. That’s how Lone Survivor changed everything. After reading it I felt as though I had known Danny, Axe, and Mike at least a little, enough to care for them, admire them, and thank them as I read and they fell one by one. I think it was very brave of Marcus, after returning from the collapse of Operation Redwing, to share the most tortured event of his life and let people into his deepest nightmares.  He’s a hero on the battlefield and off. Once back home he started the Lone Survivor Foundation, an organization that helps to optimize recovery and healing of our American Patriots. The Foundation also asks America to stand up and support her troops and never forget Operation Redwing. Because of Marcus I have an inkling of an idea of what it means to be a Navy SEAL and what the members of Operation Redwing, Danny, Axe, and Mike, did for me and for us all.

Thank you,  Danny, Axe, and Mike. You’d be proud of your Southern Boy. He made it out of that hell hole and told your story. He made us love you all and I, a college kid in East Texas, have got my boots on for you.

I’ve also got my boots on for my own lone survivor, my Grandpa Mac. He joined the Navy to be a pilot in 1958. A helicopter, in which he was the copilot, malfunctioned and went down not far from the California training base. It crashed into the ground as a ball of flame. After he had picked himself up from the broken glass and and fire, he went back in for his injured fellow servicemen. However, despite his efforts, he alone survived. For his valor and selflessness he received a medal.

Learning that about my own grandpa made me realize that there are secret heroes all around us. Imagine that one of those heroes saw you walking around in a pair of combat boots, boots just like theirs. You could bless a serviceman just by walking to the grocery store! So what are you waiting for? Get your boots on!

Box on my doorstep

My boots came!

And these aren’t  just any pair of boots, these are my military grade combat boots from The Boot Campaign!

By buying a pair on their website you help aid returning wounded U.S. soldiers.

I laced them up right away and was surprised at how heavy they were, heavy with expectation America has for her servicemen. I felt a bit strange at first, as though I was a kid playing dress up, clomping around like I did in my mother’s heels when I was little. The thing is, I grew into those heels, but I felt as though I would never grow into these boots. That would require training, both physical and mental, and facing fears that I have scarcely thought about.

It takes a special kind of person to put on those boots and fill them. I want to support that person, to empathize with him as he trains running mile after mile, knowing that when he bends over gasping for air the boots he sees are the same as mine. I want the soldier in Afghanistan to know that when he’s walking the village streets there are a pair of boots back home walking the street he keeps free. I want those soldiers to know that though they are far away they are not forgotten.

The Boot Campaign’s message is that “When they come back, we give back.” So this summer I’ve got my boots on. I’m wearing my boots everyday to support our servicemen and spread the word of how people can help our soldiers and show how proud we are of them.