I've mentioned before, the community that has formed on these beaches. Made up of all kinds of people from all walks of life, we all find common ground here and share a common love of the narrow strip of sand that makes up these two islands.
Years ago I "met" a guy from New Hampshire (or New Hamster as he's known to refer to the place) on one of the local fishing boards here on Hatteras. It took a while for us to put a face to a name as his crew would be here and I'd be stuck in Virginia or the other way around. When we finally met, I had the pleasure of also meeting his lovely wife and their two children and of course the dog who could consume a blog post of his own.
We'd go out and hook up with even more friends, find a spot to fish, and proceed to have a great time. Part of what made it so much fun and even funny at times were the kids. They were usually really into this fishing thing and none more so than his boy who at even five years old would walk down to the waters edge and start throwing lures for bluefish and such. Over the years since then Ive watched his cast get straighter, longer and more precise.
I just saw those two a few weeks back and that boy is still at it, still thrilled to fish, and enjoying the whole Seashore experience.
Being part of this war for access got me smack dab in the middle of one of the most frustrating experiences I've ever had or been party to. I'd be lying if I said that I'd never contemplated quitting the fight all together as some have done. The truth though, is that every time I've started thinking about throwing in the towel, I think about those two children and the joy on their faces as they share the experience and wonders of this special place and any thought of quitting goes right out the window.
I am resolved that these two wonderful kids will always have this Seashore to call "home" just as their father does, and their grandfather too.
Tomorrow I have the extraordinary pleasure of meeting the new son of two more great friends who will be making his first visit to these beaches. And I know as I look across the sand and see the hundreds of signs marking the closures that prohibit all access I'm going to get angry. But with that anger will come resolve and the strength to continue this fight with but one objective, to win.
I once sat on the beach in a circle of friends during the late summer when fishing was particularly slow. One of my friend's significant other had a couple of daughters who always accompanied them to the Seashore. As we were sitting around telling tales and whatnot, the girls got up, grabbed a five gallon bucket and proceeded to walk off into the distance. Nobody was worried about where they were headed, they were of driving age and were good kids, besides, we all thought they were going shelling.
Two hours later they quietly sauntered back and produced a bucket half full of trash that was recovered as they walked the sand. Not one single adult had ever suggested that they do this. No, they took it upon themselves because they had learned just how important it is for all of us to care for this resource and these two, even at such a young age, understood. To this day, I remain amazed at the action of these two children and have written about it many times.
With all that considered, it's no surprise that as a user group, we've been so stalwart and efficient at taking care of this place. And here, first hand, I witness how the love of this Seashore and its wonders are passed from one generation to another and at the same time see the love of freedom that we enjoy as Americans.
As I thank Geoff and Fawn, Phil, Athena, and Rich for passing this love onto their children, I again thank them for providing me the inspiration to never give up. And to all of you who have passed on this love and respect for this place, my greatest thanks.
Somewhere this night is a tired, hungry, soldier who daily risks his or her life to defend us here at home. Somewhere, that soldiers family lives with the knowledge that they may never see their child again as he or she fights to protect our freedoms, our system of government, and our lives.
Our fight here, sadly, is a fight against the very government these fine people risk their lives to protect.
I sure hope we win our fight so that when Dave or John, Cindy, and all come home and want to bring their kids to this place, they'll still be able to.