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Meeting Buck Compton and Other Adventures in WA

January 14, 2008

 

Buck Compton and Jason Gray

Buck Compton and Jason Gray

We’ve had a great week here in WA. We’re still staying at my in-laws who have been gracious enough to let us mooch off of them for the month of January while I have engagements in the Pacific Northwest. It’s good to be with our family out here, though most activities are centered around a meal, so it seems like we are going from meal to meal and I see a lot of exercise in my near future to shed some weight gain.

For the last few years I’ve taken the first service of the year at a great church in BurlingtonWA called His Place. They are one of my favorite churches I get to visit. They always make me feel like a part of their family when I’m here and this year was no different. I brought out almost all the new songs I’ve been working on to see how they played to an audience and it felt good.

Since I was going to be in town the following week, pastor Bruce talked me into being a part of his ongoing video series called “Where’s The Chair”. Of course I couldn’t resist and let them suit me up in their best redneck clothes. I spent the better part of last Thursday learning how to drive an old flat bed truck with sheep in the back. We attended His Place Sunday morning to watch my special guest appearance in the video and had a good laugh. Bruce is an incredibly creative and effective communicator and it was good to sit under his teaching and be a part of the service. You can watch the video at http://www.wheres-the-chair.com (it’s the one called The Good Shepherd).

Saturday we spent the day with the boys and Taya’s parents. They took us to the Seattle Aquarium and treated us to our favorite coffee from Espresso Vivace – the white velvet mocha. Seriously, you have to have it to understand…

You’ll often hear me saying that one of the best parts of my job is that I get to meet incredible people. Well, last night was an evening I will long remember as I was blessed to do an intimate concert in the living room of Buck Compton’s daughter and got to spend some time in conversation with the man himself. For those who don’t know, Buck Compton was one of the major characters in the Emmy winning mini-series “Band Of Brothers” produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. My friend Andrew Peterson practically forced the DVD series on me nearly a year ago insisting I would love it, which of course I did – more than loved it in fact. It struck a real deep chord in me. 

The 10 hour miniseries follows Easy Company of the 101st airborne division through their training, parachute drop behind enemy lines on D-Day, The Battle Of The Bulge, and their capture of Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. Ultimately, as the title suggests, the series is less about the war than it is about the deep friendships of these real life heroes who came to depend on each other during their amazing history making journey. Buck Compton looms large in the series and his life after the war is just as interesting as he went on to be the lead prosecuter in Sirhan Sirhan’s trial for the murder of Robert F. Kennedy.

I’m often asked for my autograph, but I was the fan here, getting Buck to sign everything I had on hand for friends and family. We had a nice conversation over dinner about his own book that will be out in May and his portrayal in the series (he said the actor who played him was much prettier than he is in real life). It’s not everyday you get to meet a living legend and I’m glad to say that he is a very kind and gracious man. He told me he liked my stories and that I was inspiring, which was far too generous of him to say, but I soaked it in anyway. In the book he signed for me, he wrote, “To Jason, All my best. You’re an Inspiration. Buck Compton”

From a man like Lt. Buck Compton, those words are a charge as much as they are a generous compliment. I hope to live up to those words in 2008.

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