Moments from 2014 / by Justin Merriman

A man walks by a billboard in Simferopol, a city in Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula on March 16, 2014, as voting on the referendum began to either join Russia or become an effectively independent state connected to Ukraine.
 A woman feeds the pigeons in Sevastopol, a city in Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, on March 17, 2014, a day after Crimea’s referendum vote to join with Russia. 
 While saluting police officers, soldiers and veterans salute, a soldier is handed the remains of an unclaimed veteran from a hearse as another is presented with a U.S. flag during a ceremony at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Cecil on Thursday.  Twenty-six unclaimed veterans, representing all branches except the Coast Guard, were buried with military honors.  The veterans were identified as part of The Missing in America Project, a national program, that identifies veteran remains.
 As thousands died during the widespread epidemic of the Ebola virus disease in West Africa, in the United States, the Ebola protective suit became a popular Halloween costume. On Pittsburgh's South Side, Janet Brunson of Penn Hills walks out of Spotlight Costumes where two versions of the suit were on display outside the store. 
 A cowboy fixes his hat as he enjoys a cigarette during the North Washington Rodeo in West Sunbury, PA.
 A woman watches from a bus as several thousand pro-Russia demonstrators march past her window from a rally at Lenin Square towards Donetsk's regional administration building in Ukraine on March 23, 2014.
 Dean McMillen, 84, a U.S. Navy veteran who served during the Korean conflict, rides on a motorcycle in the Veteran's Day parade in Butler, PA on Nov. 11, 2014.
 Slim Forsythe, 58, plays his guitar in front of Nieds Hotel, where he lives and performs, in Lawrenceville on Wednesday evening, Sept. 2, 2014.  Forsythe who works in the city's budget office has lived a colorful life, having worked as a lawyer, a self-published author, a volunteer at Mother Teresa's House of the Dying in Calcutta, an anti-nuke protester, a school bus driver, and many other endeavors.  On Aug. 29 Forsythe was inducted into the America's Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Iowa.
 A.J. Jakub, the father of Serenity Jakub, 3, one of six victims of a deadly fire in McKeesport, PA breaks down in tears as he tries to speak at a candlelight vigil in front of the home.
A woman looks over a memorial at one of the blockaded entrances to Kiev's Maidan, Independence Square on March 10, 2014.

These are some of my personal favorite images from 2014.  As a photojournalist, one must be present not only for the grand moments of life, but also the dark and lonely ones. The images that I chose are ones that I hold closely for my own personal reasons, some, for the moment that I was privileged to be part of, others for their aesthetics or the experience I had in making them, and yet others for the subjects I have had the pleasure of meeting. I take no joy in pressing my lens into tragedy or sorrow, but recognize and understand the importance of cameras in those moments.  I’ve been fortunate not only in 2014, but throughout my career to see with my own eyes so much. I look forward to the year ahead and all that falls before my lens. Happy New Year!