Fallen Warrior Procession

By California standards, I live in a very small town. A big part of our community is the United States Navy as they have a base here with everything from nuclear carriers to F-22s to SEALs to trained dolphins. Along with the Navy, you can also find members of the Air Force, Army, Marines, Coast Guard, Homeland Security, Border Patrol and Secret Service. Pretty much everyone here has family or friends that are serving our country.

Today was an exceptionally emotional day for Coronado. The Navy brought back one of their SEALs, Navy Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class Darrik Benson, from the Chinook helicopter that was downed on August 6th that took the lives of 30 U.S. service members. There was a funeral procession for Officer Benson down the main street that leads out of the naval base and across the bridge to San Diego and patriotism was at its best today. There weren’t dozens or hundreds that came to pay their respects as the procession made its way down 4th Street but rather a couple thousand. Children were pulled out of school. Police and fire men were at attention. There were probably more people lining the street than when the President of the United States’ motorcade makes its occasional appearance whenever the President visits San Diego.

I went to the procession to pay my respects. And I also wanted to document the event. Taking a big SLR would probably have been disruptive with the mirror slapping each time I shot a frame. So I opted to go more Henri Cartier-Bresson style and took the Fuji X100 which is very inconspicuous and virtually silent with its leaf shutter. I even toyed with the idea of going with a Rolleiflex like Vivian Maier did with much of her street photography which is even more inconspicuous as the camera can be shot at the waist with its waist level finder.

As the procession made its way down the street, low chatter and conversation quickly turned silent as hands went over hearts and American flags were proudly displayed. The procession moved at a good clip but still lasted five minutes or so. There were probably over one hundred vehicles in the procession. A good portion of our town was here to pay their respects to a man who gave his life for his country.