And Who Protects Them? (Photos)
Days become a blur – especially when I disconnect from my electronic dog collar that is my smartphone.
Freelancing as I do, photographic shoots (jobs) are varied and come up unexpectedly requiring multiple bookings to hustle to and from and in those vary rare occasions – an event that is actually planned for weeks ahead of time. So it was last week with the jobs.
On one day I would be photographing Miss District of Columbia and the next day shooting a small business owner on Main Street. Friday, I was in Silver Spring around 11 a.m. photographing a woman who teaches people how to laugh and do yoga to manage pain. I processed that film afterwards and then later that same day it would be off to high school basketball.
A dad approached me as I finished at 8:30 p.m. with basketball and reintroduced his self to me – we had meet when I did some video photography for MCM at his auto body shop in Rockville. I had never seen him at a game before. We chatted and at some point he indicated that he closed up shop early to watch his son play – because of the mass shootings.
I was clueless. Momentarily, I thought he was talking about Clackamas Oregon.
He tried to find (unsuccessfully) the news connections on his Blackberry to show me but all I knew was that something awful had happened and this man wanted to just be around his son tonight.
When I got home Denise told me of the days events and said that there would be a special NBC broadcast at 10 p.m. about a little town in Connecticut. Sad.
How quickly things change. What was once just a Saturday morning Santa Party with Toys for Tots – a job planned for many weeks – now could take on a totally different meaning.
Driving to Rockville only 12 hours later I walked into the community-meeting center and found Mandy (not her real name). She is the event planner.
Parents and children had yet to show up – Santa was there. A sharply dressed contingent of Marines stood on call nearby. A wiseacre clown who makes balloon art was setting up. And of course there is the face painter. The room was decorated for the holidays. There was a huge pile of toys.
Mandy stopped me and as we pulled aside she related how a local resident who has no children called her late Friday night and said that he – only hours before – collected contributions from his office workers and wanted to deliver 75 toys bought Friday evening to the event the first thing Saturday morning. That explained the toys.
Mandy, who has planned this event each of the previous three years, said that she didn’t know what to expect today but it was going to be different.
Then they came. Indeed it was different, yet the same. Mandy told me so.
There were the parents with their children in tow, all different faiths, colors and manners of dress bearing gifts. The ages ranged from newborns to about 10 years old – most of them were in the middle age ranges. Parents held their children tightly.
Using two cameras loaded to their digital capacity with empty megabytes and short-range wide-angled lens I began.
The amount of digital photography that happened that day – was huge. Parents with DSLR cameras hanging from neck straps – smartphones pulled from pockets and purses – small hand helds strapped to their wrists all fired away.
Family portraits, funny faces, kids holding hands, swinging balloon swords and bouncing Tiggers – at imaginary things in the air.
Me the paparazzi, was out popped.
The order was Santa first, face painting second, games or balloon art next. The parents were great – no complaints – they stood and smiled in long lines watching and shared space to record their child’s activities. To me it seemed as if there was nowhere else they’d rather be – then with their children.
The Marines stood guard over the Toys, occasionally redirecting that small child who did not quite get the concept of giving – and taking.
Every few minutes there was the explosion of a balloon bursting – parent’s heads would turn towards the sound with a grave yet relieved look. All’s well.
The two hours in that Rockville community center went quickly and the Marines gathered four large boxes of toys, the balloon lady was sitting next to Santa exhausted, freed of all remaining air filled balloons. The face-painting lady still had a line of customers. I produced nearly 1,200 digitals – of which I would send Mandy over 400.
These 400 include family/Santa snap portraits, extreme angled shots of wide-eyed babies and lots of parents with smiling children.
That afternoon as I drove away I began to wonder of the connection of the dual events some 15 hours apart, Newtown, Ct. and Rockville, Md. Was it just the children or has something more happened?
I wondered: “Who protects them from the Second Amendment?”
That’s a part of a bill of rights written for meanings that has perplexed ancient English law crafters of the 17th century to today’s 21st century politicians and judges. A well-regulated militia, collective rights, individual rights, or how about rights of children – I just don’t know.
I do know the means for addressing this protection is not Santa, not the balloon lady, nor is it the contingent of Marines standing guard at the door. Perhaps, it comes from a difference that is in a tipping point called “Enough.”
It’s got to be us, the American people.