This is a kid who has been, for nearly three years, a reporter, speaker, and daily witness to the personal wreckage wrought be an out-of-control government that seeks first to silence those of its citizens who speak truth to power.
This is a kid who became appalled, then profoundly saddened, to see up close how a military courtroom can shred the truth as if it were really nothing much. He was just one among many witnesses, supporters, friends, and fellow citizens who left that experience with bloodshed hearts, with stress barbed-wired around their minds and anger piercing their bodies like shrapnel.
This is a kid who entered a kiln that sat next to the menacing NSA Headquarters in Maryland, and emerged a young man, freedom at least intact, escaping the government casket prepared for Private Manning.
This is the smile of a young man who, like millions before him, has for now slipped all that mind-and-heart ache in a side pocket, then piled into a car with his best friend to go have a look for America in the resilient, hopeful, loving people who await rediscovery and in the undefeated landscape that is home to us all, finding his country, ours, in the abstract and concrete moments where the hammer has not yet fallen.