VFW Conventions 2013 and 2014

VFW Conventions 2013 and 2014

In 2013, We were located in Louisville, Kentucky, and in 2014 the VFW convention brought us to St. Louis, Missouri. These were my first times being in both states, and for a fun fact, my husband is the last remaining plank owner currently on the USS Missouri SSN 780, so I had some goodies to give out at the Missouri location of the VFW Convention.

[This was made after we set up the Veterans Portrait Project booth in 2014 located at St. Louis, Missouri.]

I believe I can speak for Stacy as well that these conventions can be overwhelming, but just like every location, it is also rewarding. To seeing a D-Day survivor, twin brothers who both served, WWII veterans, to just so many wonderful examples, you feel the need to absorb every story they are telling you even though your brain simply isn’t capable. Every photographing day at the VFW convention Stacy photographs almost one hundred veterans, and even I find myself in awe to her machine-like capabilities!

[Stacy Pearsall, me, and Ashley Brokop (another great combat photographer veteran) at the VFW Convention after set up in 2013.]

The first time Ashley Brokop and I assisted with the convention in 2013, she wrote on her blog about her experience. You can read about her inspiration and thoughts about the VFW Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, here.

[Veterans wait patiently and chat at the Veterans Portrait Project booth in the VFW Convention located in Louisville, Kentucky, on July 20, 2013.]

At the VFW Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2014, we were visited by some who were photographed at the previous convention. It was nice to see familiar faces knowing they’re still doing well!

[These twin brothers first visited us at the VFW Convention in 2013. They came by in 2014 to say hello. They are two of four brothers total. All four served in the military, and very fortunately all four returned home. Can you imagine their mother’s stress and worry while they were out?]

As stated earlier, there are so many stories we hear. One I have been able to remember was a couple who had been together for 45 years and it began when the guy wanted to marry the girl of his dreams. The father of the girl said if she would not date anyone and not go to prom while he was out serving in Vietnam, he’d allow it. The girl waited patiently on the home front, never dating even one and stayed at home the night of prom. When the guy got back from serving his country, the first thing he did was knock on the door where the love of his life was staying. Her father answered the door, and the guy (in uniform) said, “I still want to marry your daughter.” Forty five years later, I was in tears hearing their story as they waited to have his photograph taken by Stacy. They even had another wife of a veteran in tears. I could tell their love was not a show, and whether your husband was deployed (which mine was at the time) or you’re single, you could not keep your eyes dry on their love story. Thank you, Mike Pierson, for this story I have kept in my mind at least two years, and probably many more!

[An old photograph made during the Korean War with Joseph P. in the driver seat {top}. Joseph P., a Korean War Veteran, and I pose for a photo after our long chat {bottom}. Photographed at the VFW Convention in St. Louis, Missouri.]

There are also the unexpected stories you hear from a veteran who simply needed help with showing some photographs on his computer. This was with Joseph P., Korean War Veteran shown above, and we talked for quite sometime. What I can remember was he was born in 1932. He showed me a photo of the beach he was at in 1952 then returned in 2009 and the differences were remarkable. He had a twin who passed away after 32 hours, and has been a Mac user since 1989. You never know what you’re going to find out until you ask just one question.

We are looking forward to photographing more conventions in the future so we’ll have more stories to pack in our minds.

© Veterans portraits by Stacy L. Pearsall, Behind the Scenes images and story by Des’ola Mecozzi

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