Saturday, November 15, 2014


With all the military in my family,  the years of covering Memorial and Veterans Day events as a TV journalist, I've been to countless ceremonies honoring U.S, Soldiers.  But this week I was drawn to Covina California for the "Field of Valor" display create by the Covina Rotary Club. 

2000 life size Red, White and Blues flags, that stood at attention as if they were soldiers. 

 In fact if you took a closer look, you realized these flags were representing soldiers, is such a meaningful way.

The flags were dedicated to Veterans like James Allen Taylor.

 Their photos and stories attached with a simple yellow ribbon.  

There were also thanks you notes to soldiers like Marine Harold Gonsalves who received a Medal of Honor for his bravery. 

 As people wandered through the sea of Old Glory, they would stop and read about these Hero's.  

You could feel the pride as others stopped to take pictures with these personalized patriotic banners.

The ceremony on the same field, attracted many Veterans from all branches of the Military.  They came decorated to recognize their service and those absent. 

 To pray, 


to protect,

and celebrate what it is to be a Soldier, Trooper, Marine, Pilot, Cadet, GI, Soldier-At Arms, Commanding officer and Military Working dog. 

Gunnar served in Afghanistan along side his human partner.  This deployed dog injured in battle, made it home with his soldier, who asked not to be photographed. 

On the other hand, Wally a feisty 84 year old Marine Veteran was happy that I wanted to take his picture. 

Especially proud because he can still wear his military issued jacket. 

Three generations of Wally's family were here to celebrate soldiers on Veterans Day.  

The color guard had many moments in the spot light, even after march of honor was done. 

 But still it was the row after row of flags waving in the breeze,

  that seem to touch all of us with such deep patriotic pride.  Especially because these symbols of our country represent so many wonderful people. 

 Lives we got a small glimpse of this Veterans Day.

Happy Veterans Day to all Veterans of the United States and their families from Debra Snell Photography, and Thank You for your unselfish service.

Monday, May 19, 2014


In less than a week people all over the country will be honoring fallen soldiers on Memorial Day.  So I thought that I would venture out to Pioneer cemetery in Sierra Madre California.  My pappa a WWII veteran is laid to rest there, and I know his buddies from VFW Post 3208, were going to be placing crosses and flags at the head stones of Veterans.. I arrived to a truck packaged with tall boxes.

Besides the guys from the VFW, there were several volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 110, and  Cub Scouts Pac 110.  From ages 10 to 90 something, they were all here to make sure 222 vets received the honor they so greatly deserved. So families attending this Sundays ceremony would be able to celebrate their loved ones with a real patriotic moment.  
Volunteers came however they could... with walkers,

using canes,
hooked to oxygen tanks

 and flanked by their support team.

What I didn't know about this mission, was that it's much like a treasure hunt.  You see the map to the graves in the cemetery is well, difficult to read.  In fact difficult to decipher where all the veterans head stones are placed.

After all this is not Arlington cemetery, where every grave site gets a flag.  So there was a lot of clipboard checking...

To be followed by lots of looking and  looking.

So names were starting to correlate with locations, and that meant time to assemble the crosses...

and place the flags on top. 

 This entire process took about two hours.  I truly have a new appreciation for what it takes to prepare a cemetery for a Memorial Day Ceremony.  What drove them to show up was more than a patriotic obligation.  It seemed to me to be a strong sense of love for their fallen comrades, an eagerness to understand the older generations, and a heartfelt need by all to give families a special  moment, that hopefully will lesson the pain of the loss.


Not every Debra Snell Photography photo shoot has this kind of a emotional  story line.  In this case, I give a big thank you to the members of VFW Post 3208, the young men from Boy Scout Post 110 and the Cub Scouts from Pac 110.  You all did a wonderful job, and will touch a lot of hearts at the Ceremony. 

You have already made me a bit emotional.  We miss you Pappa Di.