I’ve recently had the life-changing opportunity to give back to a community of people, for whom, I’ll admit, I knew very little about up until a couple of months ago. A good friend of mine, who has been involved with a number of grassroots non-profit organizations that provide support to our country’s military men and women and their families, told me about a group called “Operation Homefront.”
Operation Homefront is a non-profit organization that provides emergency assistance and morale-boosting programs for family members of our military, especially those who have a family member deployed overseas. My friend asked me if I’d be interested in taking photographs of military families as a way of saying “thanks” for their service. Over the course of a month, I had the honor to photograph nine military families from the Southern California region. In addition to donating varied family portraits to each of the families, I also donated several portraits to “Operation Homefront” which they will use in a “traveling exhibit” titled “Images From the Homefront.” The purpose of the exhibit will be to help increase awareness about the service of our military men and women and their families and help “Operation Homefront” in their fund raising efforts. The exhibit will debut in San Diego, California.
Each one of these families I photographed has a story of strength and courage that’s hard to put into words, so I set out to capture them visually. I was amazed and moved deeply to get to know a group of people who too often are associated only with war, and unfortunately, with politics. I saw and experienced them as people who proudly and dutifully serve our country when called upon to do so.
“Images From the Homefront” Portrait Exhibit
Thursday, September 11, 2008 in Balboa Park
at the Veteran’s Memorial Museum (Garden)
On Display Beginning at 4:30 p.m.
I’ll be there!!
There will be important speakers and I will give a short speech as well.
There will be a candlelight vigil in the evening.
Some of the stories and images that are in the exhibit are below:
Protecting My Son
This new father was among the first Marines to enter into Baghdad during, what has become known as, “Shock and Awe” in 2003. He has an amazingly gentle soul, and his love for his newborn baby was awe-inspiring. He departs for his second tour to Iraq in January 2009.
Mommy Goes Back Out to Sea
As a mother of three, I can’t comprehend leaving my children behind for months at a time, but this mother will do so when she leaves for deployment in November 2008. She will be separated from her husband and baby girl for at least 6 months.
Hidden Wounds of War
This incredible father of three girls has served in the Marines for 18 years and he’s been deployed seven times. While serving on his fourth deployment in Iraq, he was hit by a improvised explosive device that left him deaf in one ear. He has since been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury – medical conditions often referred to as the “hidden wounds of war.” His family demonstrated to me how they felt when he left home and how isolated from them he has felt.
This mother cradles her daughter who is holding her “daddy doll” which got her through many nights while her father, was on deployment in Iraq. To provide stability and normalcy in her life, this young girl attended deployment support groups for kids and listened to her daddy read books to her recorded on disks. I’m happy to report that her father has returned home safely from Iraq.
The Uplifting Family of a Wounded Warrior
Severely injured in July 2004 when he was hit by a double-stacked anti-tank mine in Iraq this new father sustained multiple fractures to his right foot and angle. His foot and the lower part of his leg were amputated in January 2008. He was one of the first Marines to be re-enlisted on permanent limited duty in 2006 by then Commandant of the Marine Corps.
His wife is the key volunteer for the Wounded Warrior Battalion at Balboa Naval Medical Center. The have such an incredibly positive attitude about his injury, and love for the military way of life that many wounded warriors and their family members are referred to them for support and guidance.
I have a profound respect for these honorable Americans who daily define grace. I personally want to thank all the members of our military services and their families for their service and sacrifice. I look forward to the day when all of you are back home safe and sound with your friends and families. I also want to thank “Operation Homefront” for helping me to find these incredible families and for the wonderful support they provide military families across the nation.
I want to thank my staff for their incredible patience and devotion to this project with me, and to my friend, who continually enlightens me.
I am a portrait photographer, just one Los Angeles photographer, and hopefully I have done my job right.