The Team Jesse Foundation
Mission: To provide education and support for families of fallen soldiers in honor of SSG Jesse Williams


Mission: To provide education and support to families of fallen soldiers in honor of SSG Jesse Williams

Return to the Ride- Media Unit

Greetings, after a three week hiatus from the The Ride, the Media Unit has reunited with the team in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  Well to be more specific, only I returned to the road as the ‘Lone Wolf’ of the Media Unit.  Due to some pressing business for individual team members- Andrew will remain in New York, while Austin remains in Seattle readying for the Tribeca screening on September 13, acting as the Lead Editor for the feature.  I left the team back in southern Illinois to return to home base in Seattle for some much needed production work. During the Media Team’s hiatus, we reassessed our own mission to prepare for the half-hour Tribeca screening and lay the foundation for the full feature documentary.  The time away allowed for us to debrief about our 46-day experience and to readjust and refocus on our goals for finishing the ride.  I do not want to spoil the screening with details, but encourage all that we have something truly special and the event in New York should not be missed.

After being at home in Seattle for the first few days, I began to feel unsettled.  It was feeling of uneasiness, restlessness and even discomfort.  It was the ‘wanderlust’.  The need to travel.  The habit of movement. The life of the road.  I felt I still had a mission to accomplish and it was that unsettled feeling that kept my mind on the ride.  I was at ease again, reunited with the 'T.J.F Minnow', however the company of my teammates Andrew and Austin is sorely missed.  However, I reassured myself with the Team Jesse motto- ‘To The Limit Of Our (my) Abilities’.  After a two-plane 3,200 mile journey, a cab ride and an hour long drive in the Minnow from Alexandria, VA (much thanks to John and Mike McManus for storing her) I feel at home back on the road.  I was not sure if I would feel like an outsider returning to the team; however it was back to old familiar habits.  The rest days in Fredericksburg allowed us to bond again and spend sometime exploring the wonderful history in this part of the country.

We took a trolley tour of the historic downtown of Fredericksburg, many thanks to John our guide.  We appreciated the wealth of Americana in just the few streets where George Washington, his mother Mary and the rest of his family spent time.  One the most interesting aspects of Fredericksburg and the surrounding Spotsylvania County is its place in the American Civil War.  Outside of Europe, this is the only place in the world where four major battles were fought within 18 miles of each other.  Kevin, Steve and I toured the battlefields of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House.  This area was in constant change of occupation between Confederate and Union forces over a three year period.  Nearly 100,000 men fell in this area, many of them buried in Union and Confederate cemeteries in Fredericksburg.  Much of the area is considered hallowed ground, where Americans of both sides fought for their ideas of country and honor.  Walking through the battlegrounds humbled me, after seeing the very places where Americans were killed at his brother’s hand.  However, in the agony of the Civil War- our war against each other, I realized that the worst and best comes out of us.  It was the story of a 19-year old Confederate soldier from South Carolina named Richard Kirkland that reminded us of the brotherhood of war.  After the Confederates’ slaughter of Union forces at Fredericksburg during December of 1862, Kirkland watched and listened to the moans and screams of wounded Northerners on the battlefield.  Appealing to the better angels of his nature, he gathered up as many canteens as possible, laid down his rifle and began to give water to the wounded Union soldiers.  Northerners dubbed him the “Angel of Marye’s Heights”.  He went on to fight in Chancellorsville, Antietam and Gettysburg.  He was eventually promoted to lieutenant and served in the Battle of Chickamauga, where he was shot in the chest and died at the age of 20.  There are countless stories like this that we should always remember.  It is our collective history as Americans.

After our battlefield tour I still tried to wrap my head around a time where the states drew arms against each other.  We eventually met up with Matt and his family for dinner, where we celebrated a belated birthday for his mother.  It was a large family affair, filled with the laughter of children.  We all ate and laughed together like a family.  It made the sacrifice of unknown soldiers over 150 years ago, something appreciated and not forgotten as we sat in the very area that was a battle ground long ago.  From here, the road always moves forward and we make our way north to Washington D.C.  It is good to be back.

The Journey is the Reward and To The Limit,

Brett Bowker