While I was working on marketing photographs for retirement communities, I became aware of the many residents who were Military Veterans. These men and women are special to me. My father was a WWII Veteran. He joined the Army Air Corp and was trained as a B-29 airplane mechanic. He was stationed in the South Pacific to repair the bombers that brought the war to the Japanese mainland, and saved thousands of young mens lives! As a kid I remember looking through his pictures of aircraft and crews. It was like viewing him in another world; he was so removed from the man in those pictures. Indeed, the beginning of this project started when a Brookdale Veteran asked me to copy a picture he had of the airplane and crew he flew combat missions with from bases in England. It was an emotional moment for me to realize I was talking to one of the airmen who flew some of the most dangerous combat missions of the war.
I decided to photograph the Veterans with their ever popular ball caps, and parts of their uniforms that had survived the years, and especially pictures of themselves – portraits, or other photographs taken of them during their time of service. During each portrait session, I took the time to listen to the stories of their adventures and feelings. My intention is to show the “beating heart” of the individual’s military experience – memories that live with these people forever. I will include a personal statement along side each Veterans portrait. While some statements are light-hearted and others are more poignant, they each give insight into the young person who went off to war and the adult who still carries the experience with them.
We are continuing to expand this project by periodically photographing more Veterans and exhibiting some of our work this Veteran’s Day, November 11th, 2013.