Memorial Day – 50th annual Festival of Flags Remembrance Ceremony


Monday was a somewhat emotional day for me. Memorial Day is a day that brings me back to when I was in the U.S. Navy. Several friends of mine died from non-combat reasons. My worst experience was hearing of the October 1983 barracks bombing in Beirut that killed 263 Marines. Some of those were the ones we dropped off in a previous deployment in 1982.

But I digress. My assignment for the day was to cover the 50th annual Festival of Flags Remembrance Ceremony at Greenacres Memorial Park in Ferndale, Wash., for the Bellingham Herald. These are my favorites:

The Old & the New:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald -  “The old and the new, that’s what we are” says World War II veteran Bob Lemke of Bellingham, right, as he shakes hands with Pfc. Matthew Montanez during the 50th annual Festival of Flags and Remembrance Ceremony at Greenacres Memorial Park in Ferndale, Wash., on Monday afternoon May 25, 2015. Lemke served with the 1st Marines in China and says he was

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – “The old and the new, that’s what we are” says World War II veteran Bob Lemke of Bellingham, right, as he shakes hands with Pfc. Matthew Montanez during the 50th annual Festival of Flags and Remembrance Ceremony during Memorial Day activities.

When I first arrived, I just kinda checked out the scene. Not much was really happening so I just walked around. There was a picnic prior to the services so folks were just gathering about and chatting. But I wanted to get some real interaction.

Old War Stories:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald -  World War 2 veterans Bob Van Weerdhuizen, left, and Joe Moser share memories before the start of the 50th annual Festival of Flags and Remembrance Ceremony at Greenacres Memorial Park in Ferndale, Wash., on Monday afternoon May 25, 2015. Moser was one of this years honorees.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – World War 2 veterans Bob Van Weerdhuizen, left, and Joe Moser share memories before the start of the 50th annual Festival of Flags and Remembrance Ceremony at Greenacres Memorial Park in Ferndale, Wash., on Monday afternoon May 25, 2015. Moser was one of this years honorees.

There was a special tent for World War 2 veterans near the stage. One of the men sitting was honoree Joe Moser. His story is quite fascinating. He was a pilot and shot down over France, but when the Germans captured him, he was set to Buchenwald. He was treated like a slave against the Geneva Convention and liberated at the end of the war. I watched as a man came up to Mr. Moser and held his hand. The two were soon laughing and sharing old stories.

Folded American Flag:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald -  SSgt. Scott Rauch of Bellingham, holds a folded U.S. flag proior to the official flag raising during the 50th annual Festival of Flags and Remembrance Ceremony at Greenacres Memorial Park in Ferndale, Wash., on Monday afternoon May 25, 2015. SSgt. Rauch says he is with the 133d Army Band.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – SSgt. Scott Rauch of Bellingham, holds a folded U.S. flag prior to the official flag raising during the 50th annual Festival of Flags and Remembrance Ceremony. SSgt. Rauch says he is with the 133d Army Band.

They flew in a special flag by helicopter for the Flag Raising Ceremony. I was expecting a Black Hawk, Huey, or Cobra, but it was just a patrol helicopter used by Homeland Security. And we couldn’t even get that close to it. So not visually stunning at all.

Dove Release:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald -  Emily Borbon, 7, of Bellingham gets surrounded by doves during the 50th annual Festival of Flags and Remembrance Ceremony at Greenacres Memorial Park in Ferndale, Wash., on Monday afternoon May 25, 2015. The Thunder Birds 4H Club and Flights of Fancy provided doves for the ceremony.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Emily Borbon, 7, of Bellingham gets surrounded by doves during the 50th annual Festival of Flags and Remembrance Ceremony. The Thunder Birds 4H Club and Flights of Fancy provided doves for the ceremony.

***The one thing I can not stress enough when shooting events is to get a program so you are aware of what will happen. Then spend some time finding a few locations to shoot. It will save you tons of time and headache. This works well with things such as the dove release. Know ahead of time and plan your shot before hand. 

For the dove shot, I did plan it. I watched as the birders placed half-dozen small cages with 5 or 6 doves in them. I talked with one of the people and got the info I needed. When the National Anthem was nearing the end, I moved towards the Veteran’s Memorial where the doves were being released from. I picked one of the kids and she opened the cage I began shooting.

An Eagle Scout’s Effort:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald -  Eagle Scout Matthew Klein of Bellingham unveils the new  WWII Monument during the 50th annual Festival of Flags and Remembrance Ceremony at Greenacres Memorial Park in Ferndale, Wash., on Monday afternoon May 25, 2015.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Eagle Scout Matthew Klein of Bellingham unveils the new WWII Monument during Memorial Day services.

Eagle Scout Matthew Klein unveiled his project during the ceremony. As they’re rebuilding the Veteran’s Memorial, he designed and had made a new marble monument for WW2 veterans.

Taps:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald -  Bugler Riggs Nelson, with the American Legion Post 7, plays taps to close the 50th annual Festival of Flags and Remembrance Ceremony at Greenacres Memorial Park in Ferndale, Wash., on Monday afternoon May 25, 2015.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Bugler Riggs Nelson, with the American Legion Post 7, plays taps to close the 50th annual Festival of Flags Memorial Day Ceremony.

Visit the photo gallery 50th annual Festival of Flags Memorial Day Ceremony on my website for more images.

To read more of my thoughts on celebrating the lives of our military men and women, visit Why We Are Free: Remembering Those Who Served 

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Paul “pablo” Conrad

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Paul Conrad is an award-winning, nationally and internationally published freelance photographer living in Bellingham, Whatcom County, Wash., north of Seattle in the Pacific Northwest. His work has been published in newspapers and magazine throughout the United States and in Europe.

His clients include Getty Images, Wire Image, The Bellingham Herald, and many local business in Whatcom County. Previous clients are Associated Press, the New York Times, L.A. Times, Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, and many others.

His specialty is photojournalism covering news, sports, and editorial portraits, he also is skilled in family portraiture, high school senior portraits, and weddings. He is available for assignments anywhere in the Pacific Northwest.

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