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Wounded Veteran Walks with American Flag at Magic Kingdom Park

Kelly Glassburn

by , Manager of Marketing & Communications, Disney’s PhotoPass Service


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.


  • What an incredibly moving story. I am not ashamed to say that I was moved to tears while reading.

  • The picture alone of Sgt. Sanchez left me speechless then reading the story brought me to tears. I want to send a BIG heartfelt THANK YOU!! to Sgt. Sanchez and all of the men & women of the armed services who put themselves into harms way to protect and service this country.

  • What an awesome man and soldier…thank you for serving and protecting our country!

  • What a wonderful story. Thank YOU Sgt Sanchez!

  • Thank you, Army Sgt. Cesar Sanchez, and all those who serve our country. Thank you, too, to the Walt Disney Organization and the Disney Parks Blog for sharing a profile on this great American.

  • Thank you Sargeant and thank you to his wife and child for making such sacrifices for our country.

  • Just want to say thank you to him for all he does for this country! Amazed and moved by this story.

  • Beautiful picture and very moving story. The picture alone was truly worth a thousand words…to Sgt. and Mrs. Sanchez and all of our men and women in the armed forces, our heartfelt gratitude for your service and your sacrifice.

    Kelly – thank you for sharing this wonderful story!

  • Thank you for sharing this story, and THANK YOU to Sgt. Sanchez and all the other men and women who have sacrificed!

  • Thank you Sgt. Sanchez and family.

  • Sgt. Sanchez, Saying “thank you” cannot appropriately express my gratitude to you for the service and sacrifice you have shown to this country. But I’ll say it anyway, Thank you!

  • Wow, what an awesome story. THANK YOU Sgt. Sanchez, to you and your family for all of your sacrifices, and May God Bless.

  • It is men like this that keep our country free! Remember our vets and honor them.

  • “Thank You” seems insufficient..

  • as an “Army Mom” I pray this will not be my son’s experience but like Sgt Sanchez, my son and all the others who selflessly join the armed services and put their bodies and their lives on the line, take this chance and then..consider it THEIR honor and privilege to have served! This man and his family have given so much. We can NEVER EVER repay them for their sacrifices, only thank, honor and support them..Please do!

  • WOW! What a true American hero! It is individuals like this amazing man, Sgt. Sanchez, as well as his dedicated wife that give us all that we have as free Americans! As a previous reader had posted, “Thank you” just seems insufficient. You are an inspiration, Sgt. Sanchez! God Bless you and your amazing family. I hope that you daughter will come to learn that so many of us admire what you do! Good luck in your recovery!

  • I sincerely hope that Sgt. Sanchez and his family will see these comments and know that we are profoundly grateful for their service to our country. The picture said so much more than 1000 words but the words he spoke were equally as powerful. We are so fortunate to have men and women and families that give as selflessly as they do for our country. I too am honored and humbled that all I can do is say “thank you” for now.

  • Wow,what an amazing story, thank you for all your hard work and sacrifice,you are an inspiration for all of us,God bless you and your family. The picture alone made me cry,amazing photo too

  • God Bless you, Sarge, your family, and all of the men and women who sacrifice so much for our great nation. May we as Americans strive to embody the patriotism and courage you show through your honorable actions.

  • Kelly- Thank you for sharing this. BEFORE I read the blog attached to the photos I was misty. Then I read it, and the tear came flooding out, and I am still sitting here wiping them away the sleeve of my Navy sweatshirt.
    Sgt. Sanchez- sir your bravery is beyond words. But your courage is so moving I had to say “Thank you sir, for all you have done for this country, and for the wonderful way you continue to represent and honor it. Thank you for serving your country, you are a true hero.”
    Ms. Sanchez- From one military wife to another. Though I wish I am never in the shoes you fill as I doubt I could be half the woman you have been in this. Thank you for presenting the positive, supportive, and strong side of the US Military wife. And based on your comment I have to assume you to were or are in the Army. Thank you for your service.
    Now, if the Disney ‘verse will excuse me, I need to cry a little more at this amazing article.

  • Thank you Sgt Sanchez!

  • Many sincere thanks to the entire Sanchez family for your service and sacrifice!

  • I’m a Marine first and when I saw this picture of Sgt. Sanchez holding Old Glory I was moved and Marines don’t cry, but when I read the article of Sgt. Sanchez, I was even more moved and did start to cry and it moved me. I thank all my Brothers and Sisters that have served this Country with Pride. Thank you Sgt. Sanchez for everything you have done, and my prayers go out to you and your family. Semper Fidelis!!!!! (Always Faithful)

  • Amazing!!!! People like Sgt. Sanchez are the real hero’s in this world. Thank you to all Military for serving our country

  • Wow! That was an incredibly moving picture and story. They say a picture is worth a thousand words but that one is worth a thousand “Thank Yous” (and more). God Bless you and your family Sgt. Sanchez.

  • Thank You Sgt. Sanchez, Farrah,and Emily!!!!!

  • Tears… Awesome photograph and story!

  • Wow! I was so excited to read all of your comments today when the story posted—I know the Sanchez family truly appreciates the support. The series of events which occurred while this story unfolded have truly been inspiring. Every day something crazy happened to help get me in touch with the Sanchez family so that I could share their story here on the blog.

    I was stunned when offers of help began pouring in from friends and partners who heard about the story. Gifts for little Emily were donated to the family before the Christmas Holiday, the US Army Recruitment office who helped put me in touch with Sgt. Sanchez are now working to help the family even more, and the executive team at Zaycon Foods has pledged to provide a food stipend for the coming year for the Sanchez family! (Zaycon Foods was so moved by the story that would like to develop a something to help OTHER military families too!)

    At Disney, we affectionately call taking that extra step, “The Disney Difference”, but this story is a reminder that we can ALL answer our own call of duty to help make a difference. The ripple effect is amazing to watch and really infectious.

    So, thanks to each of you for saying “Thank you” to the Sanchez family. Cesar and Farrah are both heroes in my eyes and I’m really fortunate to have been able to share their story with you!

  • I’m speechless. I don’t know what I can say besides thank you, Sgt. Sanchez and your wonderful wife.

  • Thank you, Sgt. Sanchez and family, and all those who proudly serve this country! We appreciate your dedication and sacrifice!

  • GOD Bless you and your family Sgt. Sanchez. Thank you for fighting for our Freedom.

  • Thank you, Sgt. Sanchez and Farrah for your incredible service to this great nation. You make your country proud to be Americans.

    I cannot thank Sgt. Sanchez and his family enough for the selfless sacrifices they have made to serve our country and protect us. What an amazing and heart-warming story. And I am so glad that Disney was able to create, yet another, magical moment and capture it for us. Thank you for sharing Sgt. Sanchez’s amazing story!

  • Only a heartless person could look at that picture and not feel a tug at the heart. Tears fell before I could read the first word. The passion in his eyes for a country that so many take for granted is evident. Bless the entire Sanchez family a million times over as well as all of the men and women who share that passion and give all Americans a sense of security and freedom.

  • My brother and I both served for four years in the US Armed Forces in the mid 60’s in the Eastern Pacific. So I strongly support the troops that serve the country today. Sgt. Cesar Sanchez is example of what this country stands for. God bless him and his family. The fine men and women who serve and are wounded should receive the news coverage of their heroic exploits, but it seems rather unfortunately that the news coverage is primarily focused on the Occupiers of Wall St.

  • This picture and story moved me to tears. Thank you so much Sgt. Sanchez and family for everything you have done for this country!

  • Thank you and God bless you Sgt Sanchez and your family. We are truly bless for you and our military that defend our freedom each and every day.
    God bless America.

  • God bless you and your family. You’re my hero today!

  • WOW! WOW! WOW! This is such an amazing story. When I first saw his picture a day or so after it was taken, it immediately brought me to tears & once I heard his story, the picture took on a whole new meaning. Sgt Sanchez & his family are truly amazing, as are all of our men & women who sacrifice daily for our freedom. THANK YOU definitely doesn’t carry enough weight, but it’s all I can say. May God continue to bless the Sanchez family & Cesar’s recovery. You are an inspiration to all of us!!!

  • A true American hero. Thank you Sgt. Sanchez.

  • Thank you doesn’t even begin to touch what Sgt. Sanchez and his family have given for our country. This post put 2 of my favorite things together, the military and Disney. Thank Sgt. Sanchez for all you’ve done for us.

  • Thank you so much for your sacrific and my God bless you and your family!

  • It’s like the first time I was at Disney,I stood in front of Cinderals Castal. Wish my family could be here. Sgt. Sanchez, is Thankful he is able to be here with his family. And Thank God that he is able to be here . I want to Thank him for what he has done for our country.And to Thank his family. Because only God knows what they had to indor, when he was not with them. I am very happy to see that he is home with his love ones. God Bless Sgt. Sanchez and his family. And God Bless us all!

  • From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU. You are an incredible inspiration and an extremely brave soul. WOW, what a wonderful story!!!

  • This video is an original song written by 16 year old Sasha Yatchenko. She put the song to pictures to tell their story. Sasha understands the sacrifices of war because her mother is a Veteran of the first Gulf War. I hope you will listen to her song. It makes me cry.

  • God Bless you Sgt. Sanchez and your family. You are a hero! Thank You for your sacrifices and your service/loyalty to the USA.
    What you and the US Militaries do is AMAZING! Kudos to you all!
    Praying for your recovery, Physical therapy.
    You are in inspiration to us all!

  • Thank you, Sgt. Sanchez, for your dedication and service to this wonderful country. We are all indebted to you.

  • What a great example to all! Thanks for your service and love of our great country!!

  • Thank you Sgt. Sanchez, for all you have done and for the sacrifices of both you and your family. Thank you also for Disney, who makes scenes like this possible. We visited Disney with our extended family nine months before my father-in-law passed away, and he had the honor of participating in the flag ceremony while we were there. You can see the tears in his eyes in the pictures that were taken, he was so honored to be able to participate. These are some of the most cherished pictures we have of that trip.

  • My son and I just happened to be at the Flag Retreat ceremony on the day Sgt Sanchez was there. It was our first trip to Disney World and the first time we witnessed the Flag Retreat ceremony. I didn’t know his story at the time but it turns out we were standing behind his wife and daughter. I could tell by the way he stood that he was either current or prior military. I shed a few tears over his patriotism and the ceremony that evening. Being able to read his story and knowing I was there to witness this means a lot to me. God Bless our Troops!

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