Consuelo Martinez anticipating the first meeting with her son Marco Martinez in over a year, when Marco embarked on his journey to Guantanamo Bay to serve his military duty. Photo by Randy Vazquez.
The Martinez family along with other families of returning military personell are directed to the reediness center where they will meet with their loved ones. Photo by Randy Vazquez.
Consuelo Martinez wheres her a button barring the name and face of her son Marco Martinez as she waits for their long awaited meeting. Photo by Randy Vazquez.
Gilberto Martinez stares sits alongside his wife Consuelo Martinez as they wait for their son Marco Martinez. Photo by Randy Vazquez.
A member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter of Perris, Calif. shows up to welcome some of the military personnel returning home. Photo by Randy Vazquez.
Alexia Martinez and Gilberto Marines Jr bump heads as they wait for Marco Martinez. Photo by Randy Vazquez.
Alexia Martinez waves her American flag as she waits for her uncle Marco Martinez’s arrival. Photo by Randy Vazquez.
Alexia Martinez awaits Marco Martinez’s arrival with her American flag. Photo by Randy Vazquez.
The Martinez family steps outside to greet the incoming soldiers. Photo by Randy Vazquez.
The soldiers arrive at the Readiness Center after their year long tour. Photo by Randy Vazquez.
Marco Martinez hugs his mother Consuelo Martinez for the first time in over a year. Photo by Randy Vazquez.
Marco Martinez having an emotional hug with his mother Consuelo Martinez. Photo by Randy Vazquez.
Marco Martinez and his Mother Consuelo Martinez spending time together after Marco’s one year tour. Photo by Randy Vazquez.
Marco Martinez kissing his niece Alexia Martinez for the first time in over a year. Photo by Randy Vazquez.
The returning soldiers enter the hall where they are greeted by friends and family. Photo by Randy Vazquez.
Marco Martinez is lined-up next to his fellow unit member. Photo by Randy Vazquez.
The soldiers line-up and listen to a speech by their unit leader. Photo by Randy Vazquez.
The unit is released and they say farewell to the people they spend a year with. Photo by Randy Vazquez.
Gilberto Martinez touches his son Marco Martinez’s face for the first time in over a year. Photo by Randy Vazquez.
Gilberto Martinez hugs his son Marco Martinez. Photo by Randy Vazquez.
On July 4th, like many Americans, I will indulge in everything that is America. Hot dogs. Fireworks. Beer. But what about July third or fifth? Am I not American on those days? Am I limited to being American for one summer day or have many Americans misinterpreted the significance of Independence Day? As I came to find out recently, the Fourth of July is just a date for some families. The real celebration is when they see their loved ones return home from tours of military duty.
As I spent my summer in Southern California, I was privileged and honored to follow a family who saw their loved one return after a year of military service in Guantanamo Bay. That family happens to be my uncle’s family. That solider is my cousin, Marco Martinez.
On the day he returned home, I captured a series of emotions from anxiousness to overwhelming happiness. In this photo essay, you see how one family changed my outlook on the Fourth of July. It’s a day to celebrate independence with loved ones, but also a day to appreciate those loved ones who returned home safe.
Jason Jerk putting the finishing touches on a haircut. Photo by Randy Vazquez
Jason’s friend combing his hair in the mirror while Jason finishes his customers cut. Photo by Randy Vazquez
Jason has many tattoos but this one is special to the South San Francisco Barber because it bares the name of his only daughter Cassandra. Photo by Randy Vazquez
Jason receiving instructing from his client before beginning his cut. Photo by Randy Vazquez
Jason finishing his last clients haircut before calling it a night. Photo by Randy Vazquez.
Jason replacing one of his clipper attachments while his client enjoys a refreshment. Photo by Randy Vazquez
Jason’s barbering tools along with a poster of hip-hop all-stars behind them. A sign of how both cultures mesh in a barbershop. Photo by Randy Vazquez
Jason lining up his clients beard while his friend observes. Photo by Randy Vazquez.
One of Jason’s customers passes time by smoking from his “Vape” pen. Photo by Randy Vazquez
This past spring I embarked on a group project with my classmates and my professor Michael Cheers where we followed the lives of ten Bay Area barbers who were all linked by their profession and by place of work. Although these barbers share a work place, their stories could not be more unique. This photo essay features Jason Lim, a third generation Chinese American barber who uses barbering as an escape from his past and a source of income for his family.