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Deployment

John Clanton Modified: April 18, 2013 at 12:30 pm •  Published: February 16, 2011
Cody Black, of Oklahoma City, hugs his daughter Keagan Black, age 3, as he meets his family outside the OKC Arena following a deployment ceremony for members of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team at The OKC Arena in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011. Photo by John Clanton, The Oklahoman
Cody Black, of Oklahoma City, hugs his daughter Keagan Black, age 3, as he meets his family outside the OKC Arena following a deployment ceremony for members of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team at The OKC Arena in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011. Photo by John Clanton, The Oklahoman

Thousands of people gathered at the OKC Arena and in the Cox Convention Center on Wednesday for the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team’s Deployment Ceremony. We’ve photographed dozens of deployment and return ceremonies in the past ten years, but this was by far the biggest ceremony I’d ever been to. Soldiers and their family and friends nearly filled the OKC Arena to watch the ceremony.

As photojournalists, we’re looking for moments that connect the readers to the subjects. I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating occasionally, especially in a time when the media is often portrayed as part of the problem or as a nuisance. We’re there to document the people that make up the story, to offer a glimpse into the emotion they’re feeling.

Reading that 3,400 soldiers are being deployed is one thing, but seeing the look on a soldier’s face as he holds his daughter brings the story and the sacrifice home.

In the melee of people looking for their loved ones outside the OKC Arena, I looked for moments like this that helped tell the story. You can see all the pictures that photographer Jim Beckel and I turned in from the deployment ceremony today by clicking here.

-John Clanton