On New Year's Day the elements reigned. One man ran through a mountain of snow. Another man lit a city on fire. Both caught the media and our attentions for the wrong reasons. Two men separated by just over 1000 miles and with back stories that loomed larger than fireworks or next-day hangovers for many celebration revelers.
Outside of Seattle the remnants of a New Years celebration were marred by gunfire. There a 24 year old former Iraqi war veteran unleashed gunfire before heading off to Mount Rainer that bitter morning to hide out. He was locked and loaded. His car filled with ammunition and body armor. His head wrecked from combat. The war had left him damaged goods mentally, or perhaps had allowed a mentally damaged man to learn the power of semi-automatic weapons. He bore them in photos shirtless like an action figure. Only no one buys action figures of murderers and when he gunned down a female park ranger and mother of two he became that. His service to the country became a detriment and military training a liability instead of a virtue. Men chased him through chest-deep snow two hours behind him and unsure of what other damage he had in mind. There were hikers and people left on the mountain and a desperate man willing to kill anything in his way to get away.
Meanwhile down the I-5 corridor in a different eco-system in Los Angeles warm weather was a petri- dish for an alarming number of arson fires, over 50 of them. Cars and buildings burned. People laid awake at night unable to fall into a sleep as their eyes focused for any glow and their smell for smoke. The rash of fires took place over three days causing $3 million in damages and countless nightmares for those they affected, yet thankfully no lives. There were no clues nor suspects. It made a city famous for riots unsure what message they were receiving. Was this a multiple act by many? Or a deranged act by one? It turned out to be the latter, a 28 year old German nationalist, in a dispute over immigration. His message was he hated America and wanted to watch it burn.
Hours after the German was captured the American soldier was found face dead in snow. Both men, under 30, who reaked terror on New Years day were finished a day after. A day of fresh starts and new beginnings for many was left with unanswered questions and heartache for others, leaving charred buildings and scarred lives as their hangover.