Is A Memorial Service For A Pet Appropriate?

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One of the biggest challenges when it comes to blogging three days per week is that there is a never-ending quest for interesting material. Fortunately I signed up for google alerts a long time, which makes things a little bit easier.

And thanks to google alerts, I recently came across a detailed article about a woman who arranged a full-blown memorial service — for her dog. Personally, I think it is completely over the top, if not a little bit crazy. But I will let you draw your own conclusions.

Rest in peace, Angus

As reported by the Associated Press, Suzanne Shaw organized the service for her rat terrier, Angus, when it became apparent that his time here was coming to an end. But it wasn’t easy. In fact, she couldn’t find a funeral home to accommodate her request until she contacted Michael Farrow at Mercadante Funeral Home & Chapel in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Farrow initially suggested an outdoor ceremony at a setting such as a park or Shaw’s backyard. But she made it clear that she had something else in mind — and Farrow decided to help.

“We talked and after a little while he started to work with me,” Shaw told the media.

In the end, Shaw, family, friends and even complete strangers honored Angus at a memorial service that included live bagpipe renditions of “Danny Boy,” and “Amazing Grace.” Rev. Bruce Plumley, who works at the funeral home, presided at the service.

“A pet is different for each and every one of us and holds a special place in our lives,” Plumley reportedly said during the service. “We often don’t realize until they are ill or gone just how much they had been loved and have given love to us. For many of us our pets are a treasure, and when we lose them, they have left a place that cannot be filled.”

Even so, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), says mourning the loss of the pet is a unique and personal experience that isn’t always understood.

“Some people still don’t understand how central animals can be in people’s lives, and a few may not get why you’re grieving over ‘just a pet,'” the HSUS says.

But Dr. Shaw (yes, she holds a Ph.D.) has a message for any “haters.”

“I didn’t have a Go Fund Me for this,” she told the media. “I’m paying for it and it’s what I want to do. They have their opinions, thank you, but they need to stay in their own lane. I do know that people might have a reaction to that but this is private … I’m burying my child, that’s what I’m doing.”

Tips for coping with the death of a pet

According to the HSUS, pet owners struggling to cope with the loss of a beloved companion animal may feel isolated and alone. However, the organization notes that there are “many forms of support.” These include counseling services, hotlines, local or online groups, books, videos, and magazine articles specifically devoted to helping people grieving the loss of a pet.

The HSUS also provides the following tips:

  • Acknowledge your grief and don’t be afraid to express it.
  • Don’t hesitate to reach out to others who can help.
  • Put your feelings in writing.
  • Ask your veterinarian or local humane society for information about local support groups or referrals to such groups.
  • Prepare a memorial for your pet.

You can learn more here.


Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

Just In Time For National Pet Day: My Favorite Quotations About Animals

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In my line of work, it seems like I’m always scrambling to meet one deadline or another. And lately I’ve been so busy writing for everyone else that I’ve barely had time to write my own blog.  In fact, that’s why I’m not posting this article until now.

But as the saying goes — better late than never. Or… putting a positive spin on it, maybe I should say, the early bird gets the worm. After all, National Pet Day isn’t until Thursday (April 11). And in honor of that occasion, I’ve decided to follow PARADE magazine’s lead and share some of my favorite quotations about pets.

My top 10 favorite quotations about cats

  1. “Time spent with cats is never wasted.” — Sigmund Freud, Austrian Psychoanalyst
  2. “You cannot look at a sleeping cat and feel tense.” — Jane Pauley, American Journalist
  3. “I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.” — Jean Cocteau, French Director

    Truth about cats.
    Truth. As seen at the cat adoption tent. Puttin’ on the Dog festival, 2017. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
  4. “I believe cats to be spirits come to earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through.” — Jules Verne, French Author
  5. “Indeed, there is nothing on this earth more peaceful than a sleeping, purring cat.” Jonathon Scott Payne, American Author
  6. “Recruit your pet as a study partner. Cats are usually more than happy to do this—in fact, you may have trouble keeping them off keyboards and books—and dogs will often serve as well. Few things are more relaxing than having a warm, furry creature next to you as you study.” — Stefanie Weisman, American Academic Expert and Author
  7. Dogs come when they’re called; cats take a message and get back to you later.” —Professor Mary Bly
  8. “Books. Cats. Life is Good.” — Writer and artist Edward Gorey
  9. A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.” — Writer Ernest Hemingway
  10. “Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons.” — Author Robertson Davies

My top 10 favorite quotations about dogs

  1. “There’s a saying. If you want someone to love you forever, buy a dog, feed it and keep it around.” — Dick Dale, American Musician
  2. “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.” — Josh Billings, American Comedian
  3. “Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent.” — Milan Kundera, Czech Writer
  4. “Dogs don’t make judgments about physical appearance or abilities, and they don’t care how big your house is or what you do for a living. They care about the quality of your character and your capacity to love.” — Elizabeth Eiler, Reiki Master and Author
  5. “Dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love.” — Gilda Radner, American Actor/Comedian
  6. “The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.” — Andy Rooney, American Journalist
  7. “Dogs laugh, but they laugh with their tails.” — Max Eastman, American Author
  8. “You know, a dog can snap you out of any kind of bad mood that you’re in faster than you can think of.” Jill Abramson, American Newspaper Editor
  9. “If I could be half the person my dog is, I’d be twice the human I am.” — Charles Yu, Taiwanese-American Author
  10. “There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.” — Ben Williams, American Jazz Musician

My top 10 favorite quotations about pets

  1. “Sometimes losing a pet is more painful than losing a human because in the case of the pet, you were not pretending to love it.” — Amy Sedaris, American Author
  2. “Pets reflect you like mirrors. When you are happy, you can see your dog smiling and when you are sad, your cat cries.” — Munia Khan, Bangladeshi Poet
  3. “Sometimes, your pet picks you.” — Julie Wenzel, American Author
  4. “Pets understand humans better than humans do.” Ruchi Prabhu, Indian Author
  5. “Over the years I’ve come to appreciate how animals enter our lives prepared to teach and far from being burdened by an inability to speak they have many different ways to communicate. It is up to us to listen more than hear, to look into more than past.” — Nick Trout, British-Born Veterinarian and Author

    A dog available for adoption at Adopt-a-Dog. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
  6. “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” — Mahatma Gandhi, Indian Social Activist
  7. “Pets have more love and compassion in them than most humans.” — Robert Wagner, American Actor
  8. “You cannot share your life with a dog…or a cat, and not know perfectly well that animals have personalities and minds and feelings.” — Jane Goodall, British Anthropologist
  9. “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” — Anatole France, French Poet
  10. “If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”  — James Herriot, British Writer

What about you? Are there any quotations about dogs, cats, or any pets that you like? If so, feel free to share them in the comments below.

The Best Anti-Aging Product… Is A Pet

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A long, long time ago…. back in the 16th century, the world-renowned explorer Juan Ponce de Leon set out to find the Fountain of Youth. He found Florida.

Since then, our ongoing quest for eternal youth through fitness, nutrition, serums and potions fueled the creation of multi-billion dollar global businesses — and yielded mixed results.

Now I won’t deny that a healthy lifestyle is key to combating the aging process. But if you’ve been looking for a “miracle in a bottle,” you can forget about it. If you are concerned about growing old gracefully all you need… is a pet.

Survey reveals importance of companion animals as we grow older

According to a recent article on webmd.com, the extrapolated data from latest National Poll on Healthy Aging indicates that more than half of American adults age 50 to 80 have a pet — and most of them say pet ownership has significant benefits.

There was too much excitement at Puttin' on the Dog for these little kittens!
We’re pooped! Hurricane Harvey kittens at Puttin’ on the Dog, 2017. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Specifically:

  • 88 percent of survey participants said their pet helps them enjoy life
  • 86 percent said their pet makes them feel loved
  • 79 percent said their pet reduces their stress
  • 73 percent said owning a pet gives them a sense of purpose
  • 65 percent said it helped them connect with other people
  • 62 percent said it helped them stick to a routine

Furthermore, more than 60 percent of all survey participants said their pet helps them stay physically active, with nearly 80 percent of dog owners saying that is the case. Finally, nearly 60 percent of participants said “their pets help them cope with the physical and emotional symptoms of aging,” and more than 30 percent said having a pet “their pets take their mind off their pain.”

Then again…

However, not all of the survey participants have or want pets; and some of those who do voiced significant concern about pet ownership.

  • Roughly 42 percent of survey participants who don’t have pets said they “didn’t want to be tied down by the responsibility of owning an animal.”
  • 23 percent said they didn’t want a pet because of the associated expenses.
  • 20 percent said they “didn’t have time.”

Of those who have pets, more than 50 percent said pet ownership complicates travel and similar activities, and “one in five said pet care puts a strain on their budget.” Alarmingly, 6 percent reported falls or injuries caused by their pets.

“The vast majority of our respondents did experience positive effects on their health and well-being from their pets, but we did verify there are some less common negative effects associated with having pets as well,” said Mary Janevic, an assistant research scientist with the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

An important note about methodology

The findings are based on responses from a “nationally representative sample” of 2,051 adults, aged 50 to 80.  The University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation conducted the survey; and  the AARP and Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan’s academic medical center sponsored it.

On Pet Parents Fur Babies And The Joys Of Cleaning Cat Puke

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Just for the record, Eli is not my “son.” He is not my “fur baby,” and I am not his “mother.” No, Virginia, I am not a “pet parent.”

That is not to say I don’t love him. Of course I do. That I love him enough to take a bullet for him is well documented in this forum. That I would also beat the living hell out of anyone who even thought about harming one fur on his incredibly adorable little head should also go without saying.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

That’s because Eli is a cat. Sure, he is my constant companion, my best friend and my therapist, all wrapped up into one really cute bundle of fur. And yes, he is definitely part of the family. As such, he counts on me and my mother (his people) to provide food, water, a clean litter box, medical care (although he hates the vet), shelter and protection, among other things.

I can’t speak for my mother, but personally I am happy to oblige.

The joys of cleaning up cat puke

Sometimes. No. Make that most of the time. To be brutally honest, there is one aspect of being Eli’s No. 1 person that I really don’t enjoy. I mean, I know he needs one, but I really don’t appreciate that he appointed me sanitation chief. In this capacity, I am not only responsible for cleaning out and changing the litter in his boxes, but I am also solely responsible for cleaning up after him whenever he pukes.

This usually happens when he’s been out on the deck, bingeing on the grass in the containers we leave out for him. And since we have a lot of hardwood floors in our house, there are times when the clean up is relatively easy. And then there are times — like Monday morning — when, for some strange reason, he decides not to puke on a hard surface.

On Monday morning, I came up to my loft/home office to find that my dear, sweet, lovable, adorable cat, whom I love more than life, had puked all over one end of an extremely expensive futon. Needless to say, I was not happy about it.

At least kids learn to clean up after themselves

After spending at least half an hour gathering supplies, cleaning and scrubbing, I finally got rid of the mess. And I found myself thinking that maybe — just maybe — there are some similarities between taking care of a cat and taking care of a child.

“I challenge anyone to tell me that taking care of a cat isn’t like taking care of a little kid,” I told my mother. “I seem to spend a lot of time cleaning up poop and vomit.”

“Yes, she said. But at least children evolve. Animals stay fairly constant.”

She’s got a point. I mean, Eli is brilliant. But unless he suddenly, miraculously sprouts opposable thumbs, learns to walk on his hind legs and gains even more self-awareness, he won’t be cleaning up after himself anytime soon.

But that’s OK. I love him anyway.

Well This Is Certainly Long Overdue

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Hello, everyone! Yes, it is me. Really. I am alive.

It’s hard to believe it’s already the end of January and I haven’t done a post since last year. In fact, you haven’t heard from me since last April!

The good news is, everything is OK. As a matter of fact, it has been great. Business has been booming here at In Brief Legal Writing Services… and that means I’ve been busy. Very busy. And that keeps me out of trouble… allegedly.

The bad news is that I have been so busy doing legal content writing (and other assignments) for my clients that I haven’t had time to keep up with my own website. I know, I know. It’s not good at all.

New year, new personal and professional goals

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

But, it’s a new year, so of course I’ve set new goals — for myself and for my business. That means a lot of exciting things will be happening here at In Brief Legal Writing Services. Hopefully! No. Make that, definitely! In no specific order, here’s what I’ve got planned for 2019 and beyond:

  1. Greater engagement with clients and prospective clients;
  2. New and better website (upgrades);
  3. Regular blog posts and more interaction with you guys (I promise);
  4. Growth, growth and more growth;
  5. Having plenty of fun along the way.

In terms of content, I still plan on writing about my passions — namely animal and criminal law. In other words, I will continue to keep you apprised of all of the latest developments that may be of interest to all of the “pet parents” out there. As things stand right now, I plan on doing at least a couple of posts per week, and I expect you guys to hold me accountable if I don’t.

Having said all of that, I’m also counting on you guys to let me know what you think about these posts. If you like them, please let me know. If you don’t like them, that’s okay, too. Be honest about what you want to see, what you don’t want to see, and why. I am open to suggestions.

New year, same mascot!

Eli the cat.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot, Eli the cat.

One thing that hasn’t changed — and I’m hoping that it won’t change anytime soon — is that my best buddy, Eli the cat, is still the mascot here at In Brief Legal Writing Services. I’m happy to say he is still his happy, relatively healthy and feisty self. Of course, he is also a year older, having turned 13 on January 1 (his official unofficial birthday), but he is also as handsome as ever, so I’m sure I’ll be using lots of cute pictures with these posts.

And on that note, I’d better run. Until next time…

 

Why I would never abandon my cat in a natural disaster

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It’s absolutely heartbreaking. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, social media sites have been saturated with news and photos about the dogs, cats, horses and other animals left to fend for themselves when their owners fled.

There have been harrowing tales of heroic rescues from rising flood waters. But there have also been heartwarming tales about all of the animal welfare groups working to reunite these animals with their families, or trying to find new homes for the pets that have been displaced.

Eli the cat.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot, Eli the cat.

As an animal lover and pet owner, I have mixed feelings about all of this. On the one hand, it makes me furious. From a purely emotional standpoint, I find myself wondering how anyone could abandon their pet in such horrible circumstances. As a reporter who has covered my share of natural disasters and the aftermath — I know a little bit of pre-planning could save a lot of heartache in the long run.

On the other hand, I find myself trying not to rush to judgment. After all, an argument could be made that no one really knows how they would react when confronted by a storm the magnitude of Harvey or Irma. It is easy to be an armchair quarterback from the warmth and safety of your house.

All of that being said, I didn’t leave Eli during Superstorm Sandy. And I would never leave my cat to fend for himself in a storm. Ever.

My reason for this is simple. As a person, I have the ability to make certain choices; ride out a big storm at home or seek shelter elsewhere, listen to the official weather advisories or ignore them, plan in advance, or take my chances. So to a certain extent, I have some control over what happens to me — even in the worst of circumstances. Eli doesn’t have that luxury. He is entirely dependent on me to take care of him and keep him safe. No matter what. He is my responsibility.

Yes, I’ve said it before and I will say it again. I will keep saying it until people not only listen, but act accordingly. As pet owners, we are responsible for what happens to our dogs, cats, horses, snakes,  gerbils, ferrets, birds… Our companions are not disposable. They are living, breathing beings with specific physical and emotional needs.

Can they adapt? Of Course. Can they survive without us? Yes. Should we put them in a position where they’re forced to do so? Absolutely, positively not.

That being stated, I’m keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Jose. And from what I’ve seen, if you live anywhere in the northeast, I suggest you do the same.

It’s time for the annual Puttin’ on the Dog festival

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Whatever you do, don’t try to get a hold of me on Sunday. I’ll be busy. All day. And by the time I get home, I’ll be dog tired (literally), hot and bothered. But I’ll also be happy.

Cute Kitten, courtesy of FURRR 911. Photo by A. Bogdanovic
Bolt, a kitten rescued by FURRR 911, at Puttin’ On The Dog & Cats, Too 2016. Photo by A. Bogdanovic

On Sunday, I’ll spend the entire day shooting the 30th annual Puttin’ on the Dog festival, which will be held at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich, CT. Hosted by Adopt-a-Dog, the event is billed as the biggest of its kind between New York and Boston and benefits several local animal rescue and welfare groups.

In addition to raising money and awareness for worthy causes, the festival gives animal lovers a chance to meet some of the dogs and cats that are available for adoption. It also gives dogs and their people a chance to show off by participating in various contests.

You can learn more about the fun and games here.

This will be the fifth straight year I’ve volunteered at the event. And personally, I’m looking forward to hanging out in the cat pavilion, photographing the action in the demonstration rings and on stage, and checking out the silent auction.

On that note, I’d better run. Hopefully I’ll see you on Sunday. If not, don’t call me. I’ll call you!

Why Americans ‘dwell’ on Nine-Eleven

A few days ago, I was scanning through some Facebook posts when I came across a question that made my blood boil: “Why do Americans dwell on 9/11?”

Nine-Eleven memorial. Cos Cob Park, Cos Cob, CT.
Sunlight behind the 9/11 Memorial at Cos Cob Park, Cos Cob, CT. June 2017. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

I wasn’t sure whether it was posted out of ignorance, malice, or both. I started to reply — and then I realized I wasn’t sure what to say. Now, as I watch and listen to the annual reading of the victims’ names at Ground Zero — as I do every year — I will try to explain.

Of course, I can’t speak for all Americans. I can only speak for myself. So I will start by saying that as someone with family that has survived recent wars, I am well aware that there are places in the world where events the magnitude of Nine-Eleven, and worse, happen every single day. Given that, I can see why some people can’t understand — and some may even resent — America’s preoccupation with the terrorist attacks on our country on September 11, 2001.

That being stated, here’s why I will never forget that day, or the days, weeks, months and years that followed. I will never forget it because I was living and working in the New York City suburbs on that fateful day. Like millions of Americans, I witnessed the horror and devastation on TV as it unfolded. Watched in horror as the planes struck and  bodies fell from the wreckage of the Twin Towers less than 30 miles from home. Screamed as the buildings collapsed, another hijacked plane hit the Pentagon and the heroes of United Airlines Flight 93 paid the ultimate price for averting further devastation. Wept as the world changed.

As seen at the 9/11 Memorial. New York, NY. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

I will never forget it because I was a reporter tasked with writing about the aftermath of the terrorist attacks and their effects in the small, tight-knit community of Rye, N.Y. There were so many stories of close calls and tremendous loss. There so much sadness. So much grief. So much anger.  There were so many tales of heroism. And there were tales of resolve.

In the face of tremendous adversity, we were united. On that day, and in the weeks that followed, all lives mattered. There was no black versus white. There was no left versus right. We were all Americans. We helped those in need regardless of their race, religion, gender or political ideology. We stood as one.

Today I grieve for strangers. I also grieve for friends who were directly affected by the tragic events that transpired 16 years ago. I grieve for my country — a country ravaged by divisiveness and hate.

On September 11, 2001, and every year since, we have sounded the rallying cry, “Never forget.”

I am afraid we already have.

Happy (belated) International Cat Day

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For those of you who missed it, yesterday was International Cat Day — also known as World Cat Day.

So on behalf of Eli and In Brief Legal Writing Services, Happy (belated) International Cat Day, everyone! I hope that you and your cats enjoyed it!

Charles Dickens quotation about cats.
Famous quotation about cats. Photo by Alexandra Boganovic

For those of you who didn’t get a chance to celebrate, have no fear. There’s always next year. And for those of you who didn’t know about it, here’s some background information about this special day dedicated to the coolest cats on the face of the planet.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare created International Cat Day in 2002. Since then, it has been observed as a way to honor our “feline friends” and “advocate for cats.” Specifically, it is an opportunity to:

  • Adopt a cat from a local shelter or rescue group
  • Visit a cat cafe
  • Donate to a charity that focuses on cats

Of course, it’s important to make donations to pet-focused charities whenever we can. And of course it’s always better to adopt a companion animal than to buy one. It also goes without saying that our pets should be spayed and neutered.

After all, the stark reality is that there are millions of abused, neglected and unwanted dogs and cats in the United States of America alone. According to the ASPCA:

  • Approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.3 million are dogs and 3.2 million are cats.
  • Each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats).

On the other hand, there is good news, too. The ASPCA also estimates that 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted each year (1.6 million dogs and 1.6 million cats).

That’s  a small step in the right direction. But there’s still along way to go.


Upcoming “holidays” devoted to pets:

  • National Dog Day — August 26, 2017
  • National Black Cat Appreciation Day — August 17, 2017
  • National Feral Cat Day — October 16, 2017
  • National Cat Day (U.S.) — October 29, 2017
  • National Black Cat Day — November 17, 2017

Memorial Day tributes… honoring the fallen

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They say a picture says a thousand words.

With that in mind, I’m taking a break from writing about animals and legal issues to share some of my favorite photographs from the last two Memorial Day parades I attended as a resident of Warrenton,  Virginia.

I hope you enjoy these images and that, as we all return to work after the long holiday weekend, they serve as an ongoing reminder of what is truly important…

Wreath. Shot at Memorial Day Service in Warrenton, Virginia in 2011. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Memorial Day Wreath. Warrenton, Va., 2011. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Old Glory. American Flag. Photo taken at Memorial Day Ceremony by Alexandra Bogdanovic
American Flag. As seen at Memorial Day ceremony in Warrenton, Virginia. May 2011. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Red, White and Blue Umbrella. Pictured on Memorial Day, 2011. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Patriotic Colors. Memorial Day Ceremony in Warrenton, Va., May 2011. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Second and Main. Warrenton, Va. Memorial Day, 2012.
Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Main Street America. Memorial Day Parade, 2012. Warrenton, Va.
Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Old Glory. Memorial Day, 2012. Warrenton, Va.
Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Memorial Day, 2012. Warrenton, Va.
Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Follow the Leader. Memorial Day Parade, 2012. Warrenton, Va.
Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic