Thursday, October 8, 2009
I met Jordan Kelley a few years back when he volunteered to work with me as part of a photo project. He was back from serving in Iraq less than a year and still processing the largeness of what he had been through. An old soul if there ever was one, Jordan joined the army at 33 to serve in the war. In boot camp when the Drill Sergeant asked, 'Who's the oldest son of a bitch here?', it was of course our friend Jordan Kelley. When I asked if he would be interested in being a jacket subject he was up for it. Jordan would come by my studio on Wednesday after work, open to whatever questions I had. We would talk about what made him want to volunteer for service, his experience in Iraq and finally, how he felt being home. None of the answers were what I expected. First of all he wasn't overly angry, he felt his experience had been a positive one. He wanted to serve his country in a war as his father had, and he did. He believed in his President's plan for the country. He just plain ol' believed in his President. Jordan taught me to look at things from someone else's point of view and I thank him for that. He spoke of wanting to be hard enough to make the decisions you have to make to survive in a war zone, while at the same time retaining enough of the kinder aspects of his character so there was a self left to come home to after his tour was through. Jordan is a kind and gentle man who I silently (hopefully), disagreed with a great deal of the time and I am very grateful for our Wednesday afternoons together. While I was busy disagreeing with his politics, he was generously painting some achingly beautiful stories about his childhood, snow angels in the desert, praying to Orion's Belt and the redemption of real bravery.