I LOVE my job:) I am blessed to have so many amazing opportunities and experiences. No two days are alike and I am constantly pinching myself wondering how I got so lucky! A few weeks ago, I had the honor and pleasure of photographing the 54th National Convention for TREA: The Enlisted Association which was held in Pittsburgh, PA. TREA is a non-profit military veteran's organization serving the total enlisted force: Active Duty, Veterans, Retired, Reserves and National Guard. They are headquartered in Colorado and have over 30,000 active members.
The Convention took place over four days and the event was kicked off by Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. The Keynote Speaker the first night was Dr. Howard Slaughter, Jr., President & CEO of Habitat for Humanity, who gave a very motivating and inspiring speech noting five reasons why people with military experience are more likely to be successful, as well as animatedly conveying humorous renditions of his days in the military.
The highlight of the second day of the Convention was a dinner cruise aboard the Gateway Clipper's Empress Riverboat and, although rainy and chilly, a great time was had by all. The dance floor was a-hoppin! Attendees donned the attire of their favorite sports team and, although most of the attendees were from out of town, the Pittsburgh Penguins, Pirates, and Steelers were well represented.
The rest of the Convention was a nice mix of meetings, luncheons, a BBQ dinner, an Awards Presentation, and, on the very last evening, a formal dinner with "After Five" attire. The dinner included a very moving POW-MIA ceremony to honor our fallen heroes. The attendees broke out in a spontaneous rendition of "Proud to Be An American" and this gal got choked up at the camaraderie, pride and patriotism that filled the ballroom. (Almost a HUGE embarrassing error on my part, when I almost picked a vase up off of the floor that was knocked over during the POW-MIA ceremony. Good thing I didn't because the knocking over of the vase was a crucial part of said ceremony...YIKES!)
I must admit, I had not heard of TREA before being asked to photograph the Convention, but, by the end of the four day event I had a newfound respect for these men and women who served our country and a swelled pride in our Nation. I met some wonderful human beings and walked away from the Convention a different person from when I walked in because of the experiences I had over those four days.
Like I said, I am blessed to be able to make a living doing something that I love to do, never knowing where it will take me, who I will meet, the experiences I will have and the opportunities that will arise.
Thank you, TREA, for all the you do and have done for our country...and...for what you did for me!
To see some highlights from the Convention, click here to view the Gallery.