Stranger in New York

"It Was A Hell of an Experience!" 

On April 15th, I was extremely happy that I carried my camera with me to work because the sun was doing so many happy dances that I just had to join in on the fun. I work at the very bottom of manhattan, in the area near landmarks like Wall St., the Seaport, Battery Park and more. Although there was so much that I could capture, my 30-minute break only allows but so much.

There was Deryck Aird, gliding along the pathway that had been my canvas. This was pretty much a new area to me because I had never been in this direction for lunch, or in general. As Deryck walked down the path, I decided to snap a photo. His army attire, plus the waving American flag, I thought it was perfect and I could continue on with my path to find a photo that told a story. Except, that wasn't the case.

I believe that we all have a story. A photo, as they say, tells a thousand words, but
to actually live that story,well....

I continued to walk after snapping my shot, which was a failure. Lost in the beauty of spring, I hadn't noticed that Deryck stopped just a few feet ahead near which was to be my next location. With my headphones in my ears, he called out to me and said "Would you like to take a photo of a Vietnam veteran?" 

I learned the story of Deryck Aird that day and for someone who has never paid much attention to History, it was really intriguing. His deep Grenadian accent made it even more stimulating because I was stuck on each word that left his mouth. A veteran of life. A man whose beard had stories and had eyes that showed many emotions.

Deryck stood there, in an open walk-way and posed as a true islander. I giggled at his pose, but carried on in a "professional" manner.  Something told me to turn on the recorder on my phone because this man had something to say. 

He and his family migrated from Grenada in 1965 when he was just 17 years old.  With all of his heart, excitement was visible, he said that he was eligible for Richard Nixon's draft and was later drafted in 1968.

Deryck told me about the different training he had to do, the heavy artillery he used, when he was station in the infantry division and how he was assigned to NATO, which is North Atlantic Treaty Organization and just so much more of his experience.

He mentioned being based in Grafenwoehr in Germany and said that it was "One of the coldest places in the world" . Yes, I had to google that because his strong accent made it really hard for me to understand, and I've never heard of the place. That's fine because apparently it's too cold for my liking. 

We used to pray, weather wise, we used to pray for 30 below zero, because that was considered summer.

As I began to conclude our little conversation, I asked him what life was like after war and if he had any advice that he could share to someone like myself.

Deryck is now retired and is very strict on what he chooses to do in life. He is retired but as he says:

I STILL GOT DREAMS! He would like a farm, to raise horses, a pick up truck and a Harley Davidson. Talk about knowing what you want ! He was a really intriguing man and I enjoyed my first encounter with a stranger and taking their story for what its worth.

"Don't doubt history" was one thing that he said and with all that is going on currently in our community, it encourages me to further educate myself.

And love who you are.

Thank you, Deryck !

Saphia Louise