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Faces of America

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

By Patrick Finnegan

Director, Integritas Project

I knew I wanted to shoot a hot air balloon over the great American landscape for the spot. I wanted one that was designed as an American flag. When at last we found it, how stunningly beautiful it was!

Tim, my host and the owner and pilot of the hot air balloon was excited about the Integritas Project and that this sport he loved and balloon he had designed would be featured in it. In the early 70's Tim had been accepted to the Naval Academy. In that same year, he qualified for the US Olympic team in wrestling. In a painful decision, he chose to represent his country on the Olympic stage, a dream that was dashed when our country boycotted the Olympics in protest.

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But Tim never lost his passion nor his patriotism. Years later, when he met the woman who would one day become his wife, he took her on a date in a hot air balloon. From that moment, a part of Tim never left the sky. 

He and his wife were married in a hot air balloon and to this day travel to balloon fiestas together all over the country to enjoy their sport. When it came time for Tim to have his own balloon he knew just the symbol he wanted to design into it...Old Glory itself.

Tim piloting the Old Glory Balloon high above the Rio Grande

Tim piloting the Old Glory Balloon high above the Rio Grande

As the balloon began to fill he gestured to me to follow him inside the balloon. I took my camera and just as the dawn light began to reveal the silhouettes of some of the thousands of people gathered outside for the launch I began to roll...

Silhouettes of people at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Silhouettes of people at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Small town general store

All over the country, in every walk of life people rose up and donated their time, their enthusiasm and their support to the Integritas Project.

On this trip we were traveling through New Hampshire on our way to Maine. I felt strongly I needed images which portray the words "from sea to shining sea" in the Faces spot. That drew me to the Maine coast, with its iconic lighthouses, lobster boats and brilliant light

- See more at: https://integritastest.squarespace.com/community/small-town-general-store#sthash.aiBCSZgH.dpuf

Seamen throughout history...

Seamen throughout history...

We headed north into Maine, the birthplace of American maritime history, and followed our noses along a winding coastal road until it spilled out into this stunning tidal basin with a few scattered houses and an faded red lobster shack.

Those who make their living from the sea learn a code of life from its sometimes perilous and unpredictable nature. As I filmed in this fishing culture, It struck me that to be at sea affords us a template to the path of honor.  Where living on land one can easily grow complacent, taking the certainty of the world beneath us for granted, I have never met a fisherman who didn't respect the sea for its great power and unpredictability.