Never Forget 11/11/11

Sorry I’ve been M.I.A. but having alot of pains in hands, so much so that it hurt to type, text, write. I’ve been off the internet all weekend. This post was worth waiting for 🙂  I couldn’t decide on one photo, so I’ve decided to share quite a few.

I was given the task to photograph the New York Veterans Day Parade for the United War Veterans Council. It’s an amazing organization run by two people whom I’ve grown to truly admire over the years for their hard work and dedication to a cause so worthy.

My day began at 7:30am (ok ok I’m lying, i didn’t make it in until 8:00am.. geez).. I had to check in at Headquarters, where I was greeted by a man in a dark suit and a little earpiece with hanging wires.. hehe.. I felt intimidation set in.. It hasn’t been like this in previous years but as the day progressed, I realised the magnitude of the attendance this year which warranted higher security measures.

After which, it was just a matter of figuring out what to photograph first, so much going on. BUT I was on assignment, so I couldn’t just aimlessly take photos. I had an Agenda.

For the first time ever, the Opening Ceremony was held INSIDE THE PARK, at Madison Square Park in New York City.. OH wow!! What an event. What an honor..

There was alot of Media on hand for the Ceremony.. Lots of interviews, lots of “who can get the “shot of the day” moments. I just smiled for I know it is not about “US” media, it’s about “THEM – the Veterans”.. Say please may I and thank you when you’re done. I made so many new friends that day 🙂

They felt honored to tell their stories, to have someone listen, to introduce their friend (even though, all they had was a photograph)… So I listened.. Meet Richard – he’s a World War II Veteran.. We became friends. The cutest thing you can meet. He watched my backpack as I photographed. We chatted. He even offered me his blanket.. awwwwww

I eventually helped him and some other WWII Veterans to their float before beginning my journey uptown.. I felt honored when they remembered me as their float past by the reviewing stand where I was.. HOW COOL!! Richard waved and smiled. hehe

The Opening Ceremony was full of dignitaries: Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Senator Charles Schumer, General David Petraeus, Lieutenant Governor Robert J Duffy  just to name a few. It began with the Presentation of Colors and ended with “Taps”.. It was wonderful to be present and be a part of this..

The night before, I met some Blue Star and Gold Star Mothers at the Marine Corps Ball. It was great to see them there at the Ceremony. One group travelled by Caravan all the way from IOWA (I think, could’ve also been Idaho but sssssh)..

I don’t really think I can ever imagine or empathise with their loss… They are strong women and deserve a listen, if you ever have the opportunity.

Every year, Mayor Bloomberg hosts a Breakfast a Gracies Mansion prior to the parade.. I don’t know how they do it getting all the invited dignitaries back to the Opening Ceremony but every year, they pull it off.. Even Mayor Bloomberg made it on time for his speech 🙂

Then it was time to get the Parade on the way.. Organizing the Veterans who needed help to find their respective floats. All the time, trying not to miss a photographic opportunity..

I saw this soldier standing alone in what seemed to be a sea of civilians scurring past, he kept ground.. I couldn’t help but smile when he glanced over..

Just a nod, to let him know, he’s not alone, that I do see him.. We all do.. and we thank him and all the other Veterans for their service.

And that’s how it began – my journey up Fifth Avenue (by foot with camera in hand)… To capture OUR SUPPORT OF OUR TROOPS!! It was an easy task because everyone was in high spirits.

Modern ladies, depicting ladies of the past as they sang along the way… Showing their support.

They stood behind barriers waving flags and shouting and clapping “THANK YOU”, “WE LOVE YOU”,

Marching Bands provide music, dance and bright colors amongst the other groups that march.. The kids love them..

I saw this statue but didn’t read up on it until after the Parade, so happy that I took this one and only photo of it.. Read more here. Vice President Joe Biden unveiled a statue Friday that honors the U.S. Special Forces’ response to the attacks on 9/11.  Its title is “de Oppresso Liber,” which translates to “Free the Oppressed.” It features a soldier on a mountain horse riding into combat in Afghanistan.

Living in New York, you know were are a spoiled bunch with all the parades we get to experience on every level of magnitude but it just never gets old… Like these Bag Pipers..

Hmmmm.. It was a pretty chilly day (just saying HA)

One of the groups to march was in support of the “Step into Their Boots” Project. Check out the Facebook Page for more information.

Started by none other than one of my fellow volunteers Jessica, who got inspired on a trip while she was a Jr ROTC.. Great Young Lady.

One of the floats was JP Morgan Chase which sponsored 100,000 Jobs Mission. It is just simply an amazing campaign..

We need to Support our Veterans – One of the best ways is to EMPLOY OUR VETERANS…

Many Colleges came out to show their support.

We even had some Pageant Beauties along the way…

But I think the highlight of my day was getting to be in the presence of the Oldest Medal of Honor Recipient Nicholas Oresko. Despite doctors advice, he came out to march in this year’s NYC Veterans Parade.. This folks was an honor, a moment I won’t forget.. I stood next to him as he was interviewed and tried so hard to listen to his ever so quiet voice.. To hear his words of wisdom, to share in his experience, to listen to his words of advice…

If you missed this year’s Parade, I do hope you try to come out and support our troops next year. The parade was broadcasted on Fox News this year AGAIN.. WOO HOO!!!! Bigger and Better…  I love attending meeting and listening to some of the Veterans talk about walking DOWN Fifth Avenue when it all began…. It’s wonderful to watch it grow.

Take care and thank you for reading