(L to R) Volunteer Driver-Brian Pegouske, Leonard Marcilous, Royal Pollard, Harold Harris, Robert Routley, Sr., and Diana Routley.
It is almost comical in the way it starts out like an exam question from a college prep test:
One van is traveling 750 miles from Battle Creek, Mich., to Rogers, Ark., with four Veteran artists (complete strangers) on board. The trip takes two days with a stopover in St. Louis, Mo. What is the sum…of their knowledge of each other?
The answer, not surprisingly, is that this is a trick question.
Leonard Marcilous, Air Force Veteran, is a performing artist in the Drama category from Kalamazoo, Mich. Royal Pollard, Army Veteran, is a visual artist from Saginaw, Mich. Harold Harris, Army Veteran, is a visual artist from Benton Harbor, Mich. Robert Routley, Sr., Army Veteran, is a visual artist from Stanwood, Mich. Prior to this trip to the 2011 National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, they had never met.
As Marcilous and Harris both pointed out, Veterans are brothers and sisters, so in essence, they started the trip as family. That’s common ground to work with. The bonus was that all artists have a kindred spirit and you can see it in the work they produce. What was going to be an intriguing story portraying four total strangers surviving a long road trip together, turned out to be one of the most delightful conversations this writer has ever had. As a Veteran myself, it was enlightening to me that I was able to join in the conversation, so quickly. Hence, the trick question. As Veterans, who’ve honorably served this country in all eras, we share a bond that most civilians will never understand. Our relationship to each other was forged by fire and tradition, and a lasting legacy that we’ll all never forget. We aren’t strangers, we aren’t passengers thrown together by circumstance… we are family. Lesson learned, my brothers and sisters…lesson learned.
By Darin Farr, public affairs officer, VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System