I came across this story thanks to Gayle Nicholson of Little Rock, and was so touched by it that I wanted to share it in its entirety, as written by Gayle herself. The photos are hers also, and you can click on any of them here to see more.
Early Sunday morning, I went out on a photo hunting excursion around downtown Little Rock.
Hours later, hot, thirsty & tired, I walked past a small group of people standing on a sidewalk near the Old State House. I gave them a careful nod & the most minimal of smiles, not wanting to make eye contact, thinking they were homeless people who sometimes frequent the area near the river, and who regularly ask for money from passersby.
I heard a male voice say, “ma’am?” I kept walking. “Is that camera digital?” I came to a sudden halt and looked back at him. “Would you take a picture of me in front of this building?”
The man showed Gayle a letter he’d written, which explained his mission:
“My name is Damion Maynard. I will embarking on a 3000-mile plus trip beginning at 12:00 noon on the 17th of December. The trip will begin on the steps at the State of Nevada Capitol building and ending on the White House lawn, and here is the reason.
I believe morale has been forgotten. Political beliefs aside, our military deserves to be remembered. I will walk one (1) mile for each soldier that will never see their family again due to the Iraq war. As the death toll rises, so will the miles that I intend to walk. For the dedication and livelihood that all our young men and women give us, they deserve something back. This also goes for the thousands of American families who have lost loved ones to the Iraq war. They deserve to know that their deaths are not in vain, that someone is grateful for what they gave: blood, sweat, tears and lives.
To those that have given their lives, and the families that have lost loved ones, I give my time and dedication if for no other reason than to show my gratitude for those who gave everything even their very lives. I hope to bring solace to peoples’ homes, and a sense of peace to those who have none. I know this is not compensation for what has happened, but I pray it will not go unnoticed as the determination and perseverance of our military has. I do not wish to include my personal thoughts on the war, because the real issue is not the war, but the people involved in it.
Thank You and Good Day,
(signed) Damion Maynard”
He told Gayle, “I think this is such a nice building. I don’t have my camera, and I’d like to have a picture of myself here.” Gayle was happy to oblige, and did a fine job, after which Damian wrote down his email address so that Gayle could send the pictures to his wife.
News sources in other cities have featured Damion’s story, noting that, “…he says the most precious thing in his backpack is his log book – which has the signatures of new friends he’s made along the way. Damion says he’s met members of the military, retired military members and “just lots of really nice people. ” (From KUSA *TV, Megan Bengtson 9news.com)
Gayle closes her poignant piece of photojournalism with the question, “What is the difference between someone like this, and….say, me or you?” And then she leaves us with perhaps the best image of all, along with her own ponderings:
“It just goes to show that you never know what lies within a person. He told me, “I do it all with God’s help, and the kindness of strangers.”
And to think that I almost walked past him, ignored him, because I thought he might want something from me.
God bless Damion Maynard, and God bless our troops.”
Thank you for sharing, Gayle, and for allowing me to share your story of Damion further.