In a year of celebrating Memories at Disney Parks, some just have a way of stopping your heart. Disney’s PhotoPass photographers recently captured this photo at the daily Flag Retreat ceremony at Magic Kingdom Park, of wounded veteran and two-time Purple Heart recipient, Army Sgt. Cesar Sanchez from Miami, Fla. Although still recovering from his injuries overseas, Sgt. Sanchez insisted on leaving his electric wheelchair to walk the flag down Main Street, U.S.A., saying “If it’s for the colors, I’ll walk.” Cast members who assisted with the ceremony that day were stunned by his courage and resolve to honor the Stars and Stripes.
Talking with Sgt. Sanchez was one of the most moving conversations I’ve ever experienced.
Sgt. Sanchez shared that he was injured while deployed to Afghanistan in 2009, serving in an elite Army company responsible for finding and clearing improvised explosive devices. He was injured during one such mission, but calmly reminded me that it was his job to do so. Stunned silence was really all I could offer in return and a meager, “thank you” squeaked out between a few tears, hiccups and deep breaths.
I have communicated several times with Sgt. Sanchez, who asked that I work with his wife Farrah to share his story with Disney Parks Blog readers. She explained he almost died in the explosion and is still undergoing physical therapy for his injuries. Sgt. Sanchez received both Purple Hearts on that mission because he insisted on doing the sweep first, before leading the rest of his team into the danger zone. It was this selfless act that resulted in the explosion of only the vehicle that Sgt. Sanchez was traveling in, saving countless members of his team.
Farrah wanted to add: “Please tell everyone how proud my husband and I were to join the Army and serve our country. We love our jobs! I also want everyone to know how proud (daughter) Emily and I are of Cesar and how very much we love him still.” Again, I was rendered speechless.
So remember the next time you see a photo that moves you like this one did for us, that there is always a story to be told! We salute Sgt. Sanchez , his wife Farrah and all of the other members of the United States Armed Services, for answering the call of duty, and for their dedication and sacrifice to our country.
In the States you celebrate your Armed Forces in a way you should be very proud of – the thank you’s, seen here, and support demonstrated in the Orlando parks is beautiful.
My Dad served in the British Army and we just never seem to celebrate our Armed Forces sacrifice and courage in the same way.
Thank you for showing us the way it should be done and thank you Sgt. Sanchez and your wife for your courage xxx
Sgt. Sanchez and family. I can tell by the tears in your eyes how proud you are to be able to serve our Great Country. I have so much admiration for you.I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.GOD BLESS YOU AND GOD BLESS AMERICA.
DISNEY THANK YOU FOR LETTING SUCH GREAT PEOPLE BE PART OF THE FLAG CEREMONY.
Thank you Sgt. Sanchez and family. Our country needs people like you. God bless you always!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for you for service and sacrifice for our country! Your story was truly inspirational and brought tears to my eyes. Thank you again and may God Bless the Sanchez family and all of our soldiers.
As the photographer, I knew when I captured the moment how much this opportunity meant to him. It was an honor meeting Sgt. Cesar Sanchez, his wife Farrah and his daughter Emily. I always take the time to talk with the Veterans before and after each Flag Retreat ceremony, but I was particularly humbled by how many other cast members took the time to go out of their way and personally thank the Sanchez family for their service to the country. It was a very emotionally touching and inspirational day.
THANK YOU SGT SANCHES FOR YOUR SERVICE AND FOR THE LOVE FOR YOUR COUNTRY.
I am breathless reading this! Wow! Thanks for sharing the story!
I have ALWAYS been proud to be an AMERICAN and the daughter of a fellow ARMY man…but today, after reading this amazing, powerful story, and seeing this very emotional picture I can honestly say, that I am more proud today than ever! Sgt. Sanchez, I am honored to be able to sit here today and write you this message..you and your family are the reason why our country is so great! I will pray for a speedy recovery for you and for the continued strength that your wife and daughter have shown. When I look at the American flag now I will always have the image of you.
Sgt. Sanchez, thank you. I am a Navy veteran, and while I was never wounded,I have always been in awe of you guys, and how you carry on.
I never got a chance to tell my Uncle thank you; He was with the 28th Infantry (Pennsylvania National Guard)in the Huertgen forest in 44, and recieved the Purple heart (along with a bronze star). In fact, noone knew about his Purple Heart until he came down with cancer.The Doctors spotted a suspicious mass in his leg,and when they told him about it, he simply said “It’s shrapnel”. He had carried around a chunk of a German Artillery shell in his right thigh for 60+ years, never once complaining about it.
Since I was never allowed to speak to him about what he did, I offer you all my thanks for the sacrifices you -and indeed all soldiers made and make for us.