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Before the Celebrities – U.S. Aid in Haiti

Posted on January 25 2010 12:30 pm
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Fondation des Soeurs Redemptrices de Nazareth, an orphanage in Kenscoff, just a few miles southeast of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

I’ll be the first to admit it – I loath all that is Hollywood. The celebrities themselves (most – perhaps not all), the sheep-like mentality that drives them all to liberal/socialist leanings, their over-the-top lifestyles and utter lack of persepctive on just about everything.

But, I’m compelled to give a hat-tip to the many celebrities who returned – if only briefly – to the “real world” long enough to rally global support for a cause long overdue. In the aftermath of the earthquake that took Haiti to a new and more devastating low, stars like George Clooney, Sean Penn, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, Mary J. Blige, Madonna, Jay-Z, John Legend, Coldplay, Beyonce, Bono and Sting – to name a few – brought their talents and personas to the international stage via a telethon that has (so far) raised more than $58 million for aid and reflief efforts in Haiti.

To reel in the youth audience, the telethon even showcased teen heartthrobs (think Twilight saga) Anna Kendrick, Taylor Lautner, and every high school girl’s favorite vampire, actor Rob Pattinson.

It struck me as an interesting coincidence, given the tragedy that brought 23-year-old Pattinson to the stage for this telethon, that when I was his age I was in Haiti.

In 1997, I was still serving on active duty in the U.S. military and I deployed to Haiti to serve in the U.S. Support Group-Haiti, headquartered in Port-au-Prince. My job, as a military journalist and photographer, was to capture the work we did to help the people of Haiti – rebuilding schools, orphanages, medical clinics, providing medical care and distributing clothes and school supplies.

The world media has done a thorough job of recognizing – even glorifying – the celebrity contributions to the Haiti cause. Here are some of my photos of those American troops who did even more, when the world wasn’t watching.

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