On a bleak bitter winter’s morning in Hartford the symbols of political power were honored in simple ceremonies dating back hundreds of years but few Connecticut residents witnessed these traditions firsthand. It was an all American parade with Military honors, Police motorcycle riders, uniformed marchers stepping smartly in formation with flags held high, school groups and bands with batons twirling as the re-elected officials waved to the shivering few people along the short route from the soldiers and Sailors’ Arch to the Capitol Building.
In a barren icy park the security and Army teams patrolled for a couple of hours before the “step off” but it was clear there would be no dissenting or riotous crowd. Perhaps it was the frigid temperatures below 20s F, perhaps people are truly busy or perhaps the continuation of the status quo no longer causes a ruffle in the daily routine of people who are secure in the everyday. In an era where wars are still fought to restore or introduce democratic processes to other countries I often wonder about the low voter turnout in this country and the small numbers of people who actually observe the safe passage of government. I hope they truly value how precious this process is.
I was there, questioning my sanity as my breath hurt and I tried to minimize the amount of skin exposed to the elements. Why put my body and my camera through the discomfort? Why try to keep camera batteries warm inside my jacket until just moments before they were needed? Simple: I wanted to photograph the Horse Guards in their fine Oxford Blues formal uniform with gold lined capes swirling as they continued the tradition of accompanying the Governor in his inaugural parade.
It was “now or never” so I persisted but the reward was that I virtually had the street to myself as the parade came up the rise towards me. I could dart in and out without the normal jostle and, as I ran backwards up the hill in my quest to get a better photo a they advanced towards me, as the excitement of the heroic images came into focus in my lens, I forgot about the discomfort. It must be the same sensation wildlife or artic photographers feel when the images are unfolding in front of them.
I couldn’t resist the opportunity to gain near exclusive images because I knew there would be few people willing to endure the cold in the quest for photos that would not be observed for another four years. This is history, quite, dignified and real: a tradition to be preserved.