Sunday, November 16, 2008

How a bad day became a shining moment


After two years of immersing myself completely into shooting video (which I enjoyed), an opportunity came about for me to return to still photography (which I love). Since August, coming back to shooting daily assignments was like the first day I picked up a camera - full of enthusiasm and nervous energy. A great combination to tackle just about any assignment. Until this week.

Saturday could not have arrived sooner and I was ready to get my work week over with. My last assignment of the day was to shoot a Veteran's Day ceremony at a retirement community. It was challenging for me because I lacked sleep from a late shift the night before and because shooting "another" Veteran's Day event taxed every creative fiber in my body. The event went along and I went through the motions of making images. But then retired Army Sergeant Major Benito Guerrero began to speak and I stopped to listen. His reminders of the sacrifice of soldiers to our country was moving. Seeing elderly veterans salute the flag and singing along with their respective military branch's hymn was moving. But there was one man in particular that drew my attention. Mr. Raymond Turner.

When I first saw Mr. Turner, he was sitting quietly in his wheelchair in a comotose-looking state. His shoulders hunched over from time. His face wrinkled from life. He seemed like a shell of man who's better part of his years had long passed. He sat through the event quietly. But then the National Anthem played. Other elderly veterans mostly stayed seated in their wheelchairs - not due to lack of conviction, I'm sure. But Mr. Turner, without any help from anyone around him, strained to get himself up. He pushed. He struggled. He wobbled. Yet he never gave up. Mr. Turner summoned up just enough strength to stand just as the song concluded. I looked on proudly and with a renewed sense of understanding why his generation is called the greatest.

But it doesn't end there. At the conclusion of the event, the senior veterans were handed certificates of appreciation for their service to the country. A retired Navy sailor held a certificate with Mr. Turner's name on it. I waited for their interaction. And when that time came - it was glorious. Mr. Turner's lifeless face lit up, literally. It was all I could hope for. All the elements came together for me. I was able to make an image that I hope is worthy of Mr. Turner and all veterans from all generations. Thank you Mr. Turner for your sacrifice and duty. You are the greatest.

1 comment:

Thao said...

Beautiful story and image Kin Man! You do need to blog more, especially since I'm not there to pick up a SAEN and see your work. I remember enjoying your work even when you were video.. dunno how that happened but i guess just from seeing it through the archive or something!