Daughter’s salute at Fort Drum deployment ceremony goes viral

Daniella L. Moen, 3, is held by her mother Sasha M., along with sister Hannah M., 1, Monday in their home in Watertown. A photo of Daniella saluting behind her father taken by Sasha has gone viral. Photo by Justin Sorensen/Watertown Daily Times.

A photo of a young girl’s salute at a Fort Drum ceremony has reached national airwaves and has gone viral online.

The photo depicts Daniella L. Moen, 3, raising her left hand to salute her father, Cpt. Dan R. Moen, during the playing of the National Anthem at a Jan. 11 ceremony on post that recognized the deployment of the 10th Mountain Division’s 1st and 2nd Brigade Combat Teams to Afghanistan.

Cpt. Moen serves as an Army chaplain with the 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

The photo was taken by Daniella’s mother, Sasha M. Moen. The photo, which first was published on the Watertown Daily Times website, has been featured on multiple outlets, including NBC Nightly News and CNN Headline News. It has also been liked and shared tens of thousands of times on Facebook.

With all of the attention the photo has received, Mrs. Moen said she and her husband hope it will encourage soldiers and their families and to remind people outside of the military of service members’ sacrifices.

“It’s really easy to forget that right now,” she said.

Mrs. Moen said that she tried to take as many photos as possible of her children, especially during formal ceremonies on post, which she said could be tough to attend due to their schedules.

This photo of Daniella L. Moen saluting, taken by her mother Sasha C. Moen, Watertown, has gone viral on the Internet.

The Moens, both from the New York City area, also have a 15-month-old daughter, Hannah C.

At previous ceremonies, Mrs. Moen said Daniella had imitated her dad in saluting during the national anthem instead of placing her hand over her heart.

“She really takes to that,” Mrs. Moen said. “She has to do it just like the soldiers.”

Mrs. Moen said when she saw her daughter do the salute again at the Jan. 11 ceremony, she had to pull out her camera.

“I have to get this photo,” Mrs. Moen recalled thinking. “This is the last chance before Dan leaves.”

Mrs. Moen took the picture with a Canon EOS Rebel T3i she received as a birthday gift from her husband last summer.

Mrs. Moen said after initially uploading her photos of the event, many of her friends focused on the picture of Daniella’s salute. On the advice of a friend, Mrs. Moen circulated the photo to local media outlets and user upload sections of CNN and Fox News.

Mrs. Moen said her daughter has taken her new internet fame well, even though she may not have a full understanding of its range.

Mrs. Moen said that when she told Daniella she was going to be shown on NBC Nightly News, her daughter asked if she could have her friends over to watch it with her.

Several online commenters have brought up that Daniella was raising her left hand instead of the proper right hand to salute.

Mrs. Moen said that when her husband asked his daughter why she used her left hand, Daniella told him that she switched arms when her right arm became tired.

-Gordon Block, Watertown Daily Times staff writer