The Americana Project: The Greatest Generation

Many moons ago, long before the days when my shirt was everyone’s napkin-of-choice, my shoulders a jungle gym, and my heart still beat in my own chest at my own command, I worked in the land of busy people, aka, Washington DC. My condo was on the edge of Old Town Alexandria, and because I knew nothing of the joy of play dates and coloring on the walls, I sometimes went on walks or jogs ALL BY MYSELF with nothing to amuse me except the scenery.

There was a shop there in Old Town that I always loved walking past because it was full of antique propaganda posters. I loved old war posters (I still do, but my love of antiques is sometimes tempered by a concern for their continued well-being). They fill me with a sense of  real, almost tangible patriotism. I desperately wanted to buy one to hang on my walls, but there was no way a young Congressional staffer could afford something like that AND afford to buy groceries, so I printed off copies I found online, laminated them, and hung them around my house. Maybe my “support the troops” mentality is what hooked a hot Army guy into dating and then marrying me?

Anyway, about a year ago, I began trying to think of a way to adapt the themed photo shoots I had been doing into something other, bigger, and more meaningful than cosplay– something my kids could grow into and appreciate farther down the road. The idea to recreate images from WWII hit me like a ton of bricks and has consumed entire days of thought in my brain since.

I’ve been working on this Americana project now for about four months, and I’m not finished. This is actually only the first phase of something a lot larger that I have in my head, and it’s been a challenge for me, more so than any previous photo shoot, though the images themselves are quite simple. Obviously, there are a lot more costumes here for fewer shots, and that changes this game in one way. But this is also different because it isn’t just Snow White and fairy godmothers. My children have four great-grandfathers who served during WWII. One of the boys I photographed had a great-grandfather who made six beach landings in the Pacific. The grandfather of two of these girls was a POW. Some of the other children have parents currently serving in the military. This project actually means something to everyone who was a part of it because it is history. Our history. And I want to capture that.

This weekend I was reading about various ceremonies commemorating 70 years since the Allied invasion of Normandy– the 93-year old veteran who jumped into Normandy this weekend as part of a re-enactment, and another who went missing from his care home in Great Britain only to be found later attending D-Day ceremonies in France– and I decided that, though this will be an ongoing project, I want to go ahead and post these pictures this weekend as we celebrate the glorious victories of the Greatest Generation.

UPDATE: Remember how I said this would be a work in progress? So… after letting things sit on our brains for a while, we tweaked, re-worked, and went back to the Photoshop drawing board. You can see a few new images in Americana Part II. There will be much more to come. Stay tuned!


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