Why We Model
In the mini-series Band of Brothers (the WWII HBO mini-series from Spielberg and Tom Hanks) there is a scene where the troopers are riding in the back of a truck, moving to their next destination. One of the guys is reading a newspaper and makes that rather profound statement that according to the paper that “the Germans are bad”. This statement causes something of a stir with the rest of the guys riding with him (as well as quite a bit of ribbing for the reader) but sets up the title of that particular episode as “why we fight”.
A few months back I was thinking about this scene and how it pertained to modeling, but it wasn’t until a couple weeks ago in church where it really hit me what all this was about.
We were doing the little meet and greet thing with the people around us when the fellow in front of us turned and introduced himself as Mike Ramsey. As those that followed the 1980 Olympic Hockey team or are Minnesota Wild fans, you’ll know exactly who I’m talking about. Well if you can imagine it, I was left speechless (my friends will tell you that I have never missed a word in my life, so this is quite an event!).
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not big on meeting celebrities, I couldn’t care less about meeting a guitar play from some band nor do I have any interest in meeting the Hollywood types or pretty much any professional athlete, so it took a bit of introspection to figure out why meeting this hockey play had such an effect on me.
The conclusion I came to was actually pretty simple. He was a part of history that absolutely captured me. The 1980 Olympics were something that I had lived through and had a great deal of interest in. I’ve read many books, seen several movies and documentaries on the subject and here was a living breathing piece of that history.
The more I thought about that feeling, the more I realized that I felt this same way when I met those WWII veterans that I have had the opportunity to interview and spend some time with. I trip over my words as every question that I have ever wondered about rushes to my mind and my tongue ties into little knots and I sound like a complete moron (not that anyone that knows me would notice a bit of difference).
Modeling ties in with all this. Modeling is about great events in history. The aircraft of an ace or a hero, or simply an aircraft that defended a country are all common themes. Maybe your uncle or your father served in some capacity and you build their aircraft, tank or bulldozer. Maybe they were a mechanic on a B-17 or a radio operator on a transport, there is still a story to be told. It may be for you as in was my case that you found your dad’s war pictures of fighters or bombers sitting in various states of operation or disrepair.
The stock car of Richard Petty or “Big Daddy" Don Garlits’ funny car are both historic to the fans of those sports. One of my favorite figures I’ve seen was an astronaut with the reflection of the lunar surface on his visor, this image was one I remember very well from my childhood and one that was indeed very important moment in history.
A few years back when Planes of Fame was still about ten minutes from my house, I had considered volunteering. When we walked through the hangers during our “private volunteer’s tour” the guide turned to us and said “can you smell the history?” Well maybe the words were wrong in what he said but the sentiment of what he was saying is truly important.
Modeling gives each of us an opportunity to keep the history alive that is important to us. It allows us to pass the story on to others so that the sacrifices of those that lived the history are not forgotten.
Ok, I’ll admit that not every model that I have done started out with such noble goals, but surprisingly as my available modeling time has waned, my method of selecting my “next model” has changed to one that is more about the history and my interest in that specific piece of history than the “I love that airplane” method.
Now shut up and build something with a story you can share with someone! While are at it, take a minute and smell the history.