Tag Archives: special events

Renowned World War II Photographer and Vet Honors Military Families

At the age of 94, when most are settled down, Michael A. “Tony” Vaccaro is out snapping pictures. And not just any pictures—photos that change the way we see the world around us. Growing up between Italy and New York, Tony recalled a trip to the New York World’s Fair in 1939 as “the most amazing and spectacular event” of his youth. Shortly after that, he was introduced to photography by a teacher at his high school.

In 1944, after joining the US Army a year prior, Tony was sent to England, and later went on to serve as a front line infantryman in World War II. During this time, he shot thousands of photographs of the war, from the mundane to the explosive, and everything in between, including a renowned photograph called “The Kiss of Liberation,” which President Eisenhower called his favorite.

“The Kiss of Liberation”

When asked about the story behind “The Kiss of Liberation,” Vaccaro explained, “I was at St. Briac when it was early morning on August 14, 1944. No one was at the middle of the town, but at some point people started yelling, ‘We are liberated!’ Women and children ran to the middle of the town to celebrate. They started dancing and singing. I think the G.I. kissing the little girl is the most precious photograph I have ever taken.”

Because of his diligence to portraying the perils of war through photographs, Vaccaro was hailed as the “greatest war photographer of all time” by the BBC.

“When I was not on a night mission, I processed my films in four Army helmets and hung the wet negatives from tree branches to dry,” Vaccaro recalled of his time in the military.

Since his time in the Army, Vaccaro continued his art, photographing a number of subjects like John Fitzgerald Kennedy, The Eisenhower Family, Enzo Ferrari, Greta Garbo, Pablo Picasso, Federico Fellini, Jackson Pollock, Georgia O’ Keeffe, Maria Callas, General George S. Patton, Sophia Loren and many other celebrities of the second half of the twentieth century.

But Vaccaro’s fondness for the military has remained strong through the decades–including his support of military families.

General Patton, as photographed by Tony Vaccaro in 1945.

Tony Vacarro Studio has committed to donating 25% of sale proceeds to military support organizations, including NMFA. Among the items for sale are signed prints Vaccaro took of General Patton in 1945 Nuremberg, Germany, seen above.

We are grateful for Mr. Vaccaro’s continued legacy, and his support of organizations, like NMFA that make an impact on our nation’s families.

If you’d like to purchase one of these amazing prints—go to http://tonyvaccaro.studio/portfolio and email enquiry@tonyvaccaro.studio with the code “Veterans Support Vaccaro.” The code applies until Thanksgiving.

shannonPosted by Shannon Prentice, Content Development Manager

Father’s Day at the White House: A military family’s experience

MWI was ecstatic when we were offered tickets to the White House Father’s Day event on June 14th. We’ve been in the DC area for a little over a year and I knew that this was a once in a life time opportunity.

When we arrived, we waited at one of the entry gates with about 30 other people. After going through a ton of security, we were eventually met by a White House employee who also volunteers for the National Military Family Association. She gave us an amazing mini-tour of the west wing of the White House and walked us to where we would be having lunch shortly thereafter. Along the walk we were able to admire many of the pictures taken of our nation’s leaders throughout history, including Presidents, First Ladies, and celebrities. One picture which was especially memorable to me, personally, was a picture of Princess Diana and John Travolta dancing. It was certainly not something that I would expect to see occur at the White House, but it was impressive.

Much to the delight of my youngest son, Brady, a military band played nearby as we stood in the buffet line. Lunch turned out to be a simple, yet delightful meal: hamburgers, French fries, fruit, and salad.  There was a bit of a lull after we finished eating and Brady was becoming restless. I gave him my iPhone to keep him entertained while we waited for President Obama to arrive.  Shortly after, the President walked into the room and started speaking. I tried to grab my phone from my son to get a picture and when I grabbed it he started yelling, “NO, NO, NO!!”

President Obama replied back, “YES!”

Now, our family jokes that Brady is the youngest Presidential heckler! The President gave a short speech stating that being a father is the best job he has and when he looks back on life, he will remember the times with his kids and Michelle.

AndersonFamilyAfterwards, the President took the time to come around to each table – about 8 tables in total – to take a picture and chat for a few minutes. It was a surreal experience to shake hands and speak with the President! He looked and sounded exactly as I expected, probably because of all the speeches and appearances I had seen during this last election season. He asked my husband about his military service, where he currently worked, and also asked about how we met. When my husband told him that we met in Oklahoma, he asked me if I had any family affected by the recent tornadoes. He also made small talk with our boys and shook their hands. Normally, you are lucky to get a high five out of my two year old, but even Brady knew he needed to shake the President’s hand. He thanked my husband for his military service three different times. Being thanked by the Commander-in-Chief was so memorable and amazing. It is something I will never forget.

After President Obama left the room, it was his dog, Bo’s, turn to make an appearance. Bo ran around and sat by the tables so all the kids could pet him and take pictures.

In between the events, we went to Jefferson Park, which is conveniently located across the street from the White House. My two sons chased birds, ducks, and squirrels, and eventually met a friend – a child from Canada – to dig in the dirt with. After playing in the park, both boys were tired and wanted me to carry them for the rest of the long walk around the White House (which is no easy feat). When my oldest son pointed at a Pedicab and asked what it was, I decided this happened for a reason and we hopped right in. The Pedicab, a bicycle powered rickshaw, dropped us at the gate for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building for an early preview of Monster’s University. My kids haven’t been to a theatre before, so it was especially cool for them to experience their first movie in the White House.

We often hear that as a military family, we will see and experience amazing things during our travels around the world. I believe this recent experience in Washington D.C. will be hard to top going forward in my military life.

What experiences have you had that made you feel appreciated as a military family?

Amanda headshotBy Amanda Anderson, Content Manager, MyMilitaryLife App