The year of 2017 seemed to be quite monumental for people all across the globe. It’s almost as if it was the year of growth and change, causing us to all realize what’s truly important in our lives. It motivated us to strive heavily toward our goals. Friendships were created, memories were made, and we have more stories than ever to tell.
A man named Marcus Yam is a perfect example of this, and his story is one for the books. Not only did he create indescribable memories, but made a friend along the way that changed him forever. Marcus is a photojournalist for the L.A. Times. With a job like that, you’re guaranteed to see and experience unimaginable things. In 2016, he was sent on a particular assignment that left a lasting impact on him.
He was sent to capture images of the Erskine Fire in Lake Isabella, Canada. He took pictures of all kinds, that perfectly depicted the heartbreaking devastation this wildfire caused. After his job was over, he returned home and prepared for his next assignment. Months later while he was back in his office, his equipment manager emailed him to let him know about a package he had received. It was unusually-sized and the two joked that it was a T.V. that Marcus must’ve ordered for his own office. When Marcus had the package in hand, he was puzzled. He hadn’t ordered a thing and it’s size and shape definitely threw him for a loop. He opened the package and inside found a letter and a gift.
As he began to read the letter, he teared up. It was from a reader named Daryl Snider who lived in the area which Marcus had photographed. Daryl had seen the images captured from the fire and one, in particular, moved him so much. The particular photograph was of a dirty, smoke-filled area that happened to be in Daryl’s yard. It screamed loss and devastation, except for one prominent item - a tattered, but still-waving, American flag. The letter read:
“I stood a few feet from you when you took this picture of my home. I thought to myself, ‘Another vulture sensationalizing on people’s misery.’ After seeing this photograph and looking at your portfolio, I was wrong. You portray human emotion without all the makeup and glamour. You have my respect. My home withstood the test that night, and Old Glory still waves. Today I replaced that tattered flag with a new and shiny one. I would like you to take care of the old flag for me. Sincerely, Daryl Snider.”
This small act was enough to humble Marcus and remind him of the great privilege he has to be a photojournalist. To constantly remind him of this moment, he had the flag, letter, and photograph framed - and it hangs proudly in his office. He knew he had to thank Daryl for the gift in a very special way. He decided that, on the anniversary of that destructive fire, he would travel back to Lake Isabella to pay a visit to his newfound friend.
They talked and reminisced about that fateful day, discussing what happened during the fire and the great outpouring of kindness that surrounded the community. It’s times like this that really remind us how much one simple act can affect another person. If someone changed your life in a way, big or small, let them know. You never know how much that small gesture can change them.