The Free Lance-Star Photography Department shares the stories behind the photos.

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Moments and Sacrifices

Today was one of those days when my job reminded me of how fleeting the important moments in life can be. This morning I photographed my sons, Jack a third grader and Shane a kindergartner, heading off for the first day of school.

This afternoon, I was at Culpeper National Cemetery photographing the internment of Army Master Sgt. George A. Bannar Jr. who died Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013, after being wounded from small-arms fire when enemy forces attacked his unit in Wardak province, Afghanistan. It was Master Sgt. Bannar’s fifth deployment to Afghanistan.

Since I arrived at the cemetery a couple of hours early, I had a lot of time to myself.

My mind began to wander and I soon found myself reflecting on the moments that passed all too quickly this morning during the short walk down our street to the bus stop: Brothers walking side by side almost on top of each other. Shane showing off for our neighbors while play fighting with his older brother as we all waited for the bus to arrive. Jack climbing up the steps and looking back to make sure his little brother was right behind him. Their little boy arms waving in the window as the only thing that could be seen of them as the bus pulled away.

Standing in the cemetery, I looked at many of the names carved into the hundreds of white marble headstones which dotted the landscape all around me. From my designated perch, the closest headstone belonged to one Thomas Jefferson Ford, a veteran of WWII. The scene made me think about the cemetery’s newest name, Bannar Jr. And I wondered what fleeting moments from his shortened lifetime which he held most dear.

As I contemplated the sacrifices of Bannar and all those around me, the moments of this morning felt much more fleeting and became much more dear.

~ Dave Ellis, director of photography