Day 2: August 26, 2010

After day 1 on the road, two veteran visits and driving 568 miles, I woke up in Raleigh, North Carolina, showered, ate some breakfast and drove the short distance to University of North Carolina campus in Chapel Hill. Having lived in a college town (Austin and Tempe) I was used the seas of colors, here was no different; I was immediately swarmed in a sea of baby blue, welcome to Tar Heel Country. Being a huge, teenage obsessed fan of Michael Jordan, this was a treat to be at UNC. I was here to visit with former cadet Sara Issacson. I met Sarah at the Veteran’s Lobby Day the past May in D.C., so after months of emails, I was excited to finally photograph her and sit down and listen/record her brave story.

It’s hard for me to “plan” too much ahead of what the shoot will look like, these are portraits in the home, I’ve never been to the subjects home prior to my visit. With Sarah, I had planned on it at least being in her dorm room at UNC. When I arrived that morning she told me in confidence (she hadn’t told her parents yet) that she had decided to leave UNC and would be moving out of the dorms. Scratch the dorm idea. We walked around the public spaces and buildings, decided on the space just outside her dorm.

Cadet Sara Isaacson was dis-enrolled from Army ROTC at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in January 2010, ending her dreams of following in her grandfather’s footsteps and becoming an Army doctor. She wrote a letter to her commander two weeks before her commission stating that she was a lesbian and due to her values of honor and integrity she couldn’t lie or hide who she was. She is appealing the decision of the Army that she also repay her $79,265 scholarship.

After visiting with Sara, on my walk back to my car, I passed by Sutton Drug Store. I had a long drive ahead ( I would be spending the night in Athens, GA) decided step inside for a bite (plus I’m a sucker for old drug stores with food).

At around 10pm I arrived in Athens, GA, after a long day of driving, on the recommendation from Kendra who had lived there for several years, I headed over to a local dive bar, The Manhattan Cafe for a cold beer before retiring for the night at the Howard Johnson Lodge.

Time for some sleep, I had  a 3 1/2 drive to Lincoln, AL for my 10 am scheduled visit with Lieutenant Colonel’s Denise and Sharrie.

All images ©Jo Ann Santangelo 2010- can not be copied, printed, posted or reproduced without permission.

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About Jo Ann Santangelo

Austin based freelance multimedia documentary photographer and storyteller.
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