Yesterday, Boston University's Center for Digital Imaging Arts at the Washington, D.C. campus held a Veteran's Day Walkabout led by Paul Simkin, the Director of Photography. We were blessed with beautiful weather and a great group of people. The walkabout started at the Iwo Jima Memorial and continued on to the Arlington National Cemetery. From there we made our way to the Vietnam and Korean War Memorials where we soaked up the last bit of light from the day.
I saw this woman walk by the memorial dressed in the nation's colors with her proud dog beside her and just had to get her photo. She walked by so fast, I had to run to catch up with her. It worked out well though because by the time I caught up to her the memorial was perfectly positioned in the background. Thank you Caroline for being such a proud supporter of our Veterans and for allowing me to take your photograph!
When we arrived at Arlington Cemetery, we went straight to Section 60, where Veterans of the Global War on Terrorism are laid to rest. We were greeted immediately by a swarm of Secret Service members who wanded us for weapons before we were allowed in. Rightfully so, as the President himself along with the First Lady and the Vice President were visiting at that very time.
After the President moved on to his next location, Vice President Joe Biden stuck around for a little, greeting anyone who wanted to say hi. My first glimpse of him was this image below....he was hugging and consoling a grieving loved one. I'm not sure if she lost her son or her husband, but it was very touching to see him holding her so tightly and telling her how very sorry he was for her loss.
He didn't turn anyone down and stayed around long enough to say hi to everyone. This little boy went bravely right up to him and asked for his autograph.
The photo below wouldn't mean much unless you heard the story behind it. A young man was talking to the Vice President and explained that his father was a Veteran. Vice President Biden handed his personal cell phone to the man and asked him to dial his father so he could thank him himself. His father answered and the young man said, "Dad, I'm calling you from Vice President Joe Biden's cell phone. He wanted to say thank you." At that point he handed the phone to Vice President Biden, who said, "Sir, your son tells me you are a Veteran and I wanted to call to personally thank you for your service and sacrifice."
And then came the highlight of the day....I had been standing around watching and photographing the Vice President for a good 15 minutes by this point and had no intention of saying hi. I just wanted to get some good photographs. Well, as he started walking away he started walking towards me and said hello to me first. He shook my hand and asked my name and then asked me to tell him something about myself. So I figured the most appropriate thing to tell him was that I was a CW2 on Active Duty in the Army. At that point he smiled, put his arm around me, and started walking with me! I had my arm around his back and he was telling me about his son and other family members in the military. Honestly I don't even remember exactly what he was saying, I think I was still in shock about what was going on. ;) Thanks to my new friends Matt and Kristyn for the three photos below!
After our encounter with the Vice President, we moved along to the Vietnam Wall...
While at the Vietnam War Memorial, the buglers played Taps for the retiring of the colors. All of the Veteran's in the crowd proudly stood up and rendered their salute.
My last images of the day were of this cutie. I came across him at the Lincoln Memorial right as I was heading back to the car. He was just enjoying the day and eating his popsicle. Too cute for words!