Nebraska Teen Honors Her Fallen Veteran Father In Graduation Photos

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Teen Daughter Honors Veteran Father In Graduation Photos
Snapshots by Suz

As the end of Julia Yllescas’ senior year of high school approached its end, the came to take her graduation photos. While planning, the photographer in charge, Susanne Beckmann, had a touching, inspiring idea to use the photoshoot as a way to commemorate Julia’s fallen veteran father. The photos came out beautifully and quickly went viral…

The Nontraditional Graduation Photos

Teen Daughter Honors Veteran Father In Graduation Photos
Snapshots by Suz, courtesy of Yllescas Family

Graduating high school is one of the most significant milestones in a person’s life, marking the transition from childhood to adulthood. Most of us are lucky enough to graduate high school surrounded and celebrated by those we love. However, for some, tragic events change the course of life, making such celebration impossible. Like Julia Yllescas, an 18-year-old whose father, Robert J. Yllescas, died after an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit in 2008 when he served in Afghanistan.

Facing high school without a father was no easy task, but Julia remained strong recently graduated. Like most seniors, Julia’s family wanted graduation photos to commemorate the momentous occasion. The photographer in charge of the pictures, Susanne Beckmann, has known the Yllescas family for a very long time. In fact, she started taking photos of Julia back in elementary school! As such, Beckmann also knew Julia’s father. Furthermore, as a military wife herself, and a mother of two, she felt a deep connection to Julia and her mother. So, when it came time for Julia’s photoshoot, Beckmann suggested the most beautiful idea…

The Touching Idea For The Graduation Photos

Teen Daughter Honors Veteran Father In Graduation Photos
Snapshots by Suz

As a wife to a soldier, Beckmann understood how important the memory of Julia’s father remained to the family. And so, Beckmann suggested adding Robert’s image to the photos, so it would look like he’s walking with her or sitting beside her. Julia and her family loved the idea and proceeded with the photo shoot. The results turned out amazing, touching, and beautiful. Most importantly, they became an incredible, unique way to honor Robert.

A few weeks ago, Beckmann uploaded some of Julia’s graduation photos to her Facebook profile. Initially, she did it just to showcase some of her work. However, Beckmann never imagined the images would set the internet ablaze and garner such positive feedback. Within just a few days, the photos earned thousands of likes, comments, and shares. Many around the world praised the way the photographer and the teenager honored the veteran.

“It Almost Felt That He Was There”

Teen Daughter Honors Veteran Father In Graduation Photos
Snapshots by Suz

Not long after the photos went viral, Julia went on local news KOLN-TV in Nebraska to discuss her story. “It almost felt, when I saw those pictures, that he truly was there,” she said during the interview.

Beckmann said, “We just took the senior photos on Saturday, and I posted them to my business Facebook page Sunday night. Now it’s Tuesday, and it’s been shared this many times… it’s just insane. I had no idea it would resonate with so many people, and there would be so much support and positivity behind it. It’s been super cool.”

Someone did see the photos before the rest of the world, though: Julia’s mom, Robert’s widow, Dena. Julia’s mother said the photos took her breath away, and still leave her in awe. Now, they’ll always have something to remember their fallen veteran.

Sources: Fox News, USA Today.