Saturday morning a group of people from NAS Pensacola, Navy Federal Credit Union, the Milton JROTC cadets, and several other small groups came together to clean Veterans Memorial Park in Pensacola to prepare for Veterans Day.

The weather was perfect for this autoimmune- pain suffering mom with temps starting in the low 50’s and rising to upper 60’s/lower 70’s.

It’s as if God handed us a gold laced day to bless the efforts of those serving.

I’ve been to Veteran’s Memorial Park/Admiral Mason Park hundreds of times but this time it was viewed through a different lens. I didn’t expect to experience the tug of emotion Saturday I did as I photographed the men and women that came to cleanup and serve . . . to honor . . . those who have served and continue to serve our great country.

I took over a thousand pictures that day. While photographing, I met some amazing individuals, to include retired military personnel that are still giving and serving their country and community, just in new ways.

My life is forever changed.

This was the first picture that took my breath away . . . volunteers were oiling the statues. This particular volunteer was oiling the foot of a child being carried out by a service member. I choked back tears.

The second group of pictures hit me even harder. I didn’t realize the wall would be cleaned as well – whew.

I found myself wondering if they knew what exactly they were doing as they scrubbed each name . . .

Were they moved to emotion as I?

Did each name they ran their brush across take their breath away?

Did they grasp the depths of what these names represent and the sacrifice made?

That was hard to watch. And even now as I sit here remembering my heart beats hard, my face is flushing red, and there’s a knot in my throat . . .

In my passing I caught this little boy cleaning one of the benches that honors our service men and women . . . the impact he made was deep.

And then there were leaders that served and encouraged the workers . . .

. . . while over a hundred volunteers pruned bushes, cut back branches, painted, oiled statues, and swept sidewalks.

I’m so thankful I had a few hours to be surrounded by these amazing volunteers.

For more information on Veteran Memorial Park, Pensacola check out their fb page – Veteran Memorial Park, Pensacola FL