Last week I shared on my social media that I was going to be starting a special project to honor World War II veterans. I've been marinating on the idea for a few months now and it was time I finally got the ball rolling. Especially with Coronavirus and time ticking, it was important that I get started as soon as possible.
To help you understand where I'm coming from, I was always raised to have an appreciation and respect for the military. Every male in my family seems to have served. My dad was in the Navy for 7 years on a nuclear submarine and my mom and him moved around the country for the first several years of their marriage. His experience is the one I know most about - maybe the most intriguing thing about his time that I'm aware of is that he spent 90 days under sea. I can't imagine...I can barely take this quarantine any longer and this place has windows. Mom said he looked gray when she saw him. Both of my grandpa's served as well - one Army and one Navy and my mom's brother was in the Air Force, too. The only great grandpa that I have a memory of meeting was a WWII vet. I believe he was a marine who served in the Pacific. I know he received a Purple Heart for being shot in the hand.
So about this project... I want to capture what I can of the WWII generation through my art. My goal is to meet WWII veterans that I'm able to, whether through in-person conversation or over the phone, or even by family members introducing me to those that are gone through photographs and what they know and remember being told. The end-product that I'm aiming for is painted portraits of vets, paired with other photographs from their lifetime and a summary of who they were - during their service and afterwards. All this, put together in a coffee table book.
A book?! Are you crazy? Apparently, yes, according to one woman I reached out to on Facebook who had a background in organizing events for WWII vets. "You're a little late to the punch. Don't forget the 2 Greatest Generation books by Tom Brokaw. I'm actually writing a book myself,"......"Good luck."
Of course I'm late to the punch. I was born approximately 50 years after this war ended! But I believe it's better late than never and there are plenty of stories to be told that my generation doesn't know about. What about the vets that you haven't gotten to yet? What about the stories that were almost told, but somebody didn't care enough to ask? What about the person who wants their grandpa's legacy to live on in some way?
What about my generation and the next knowing about who these people were? What they saw, what they stood for, what evils they faced, what sacrifices they made, what lives they lived? Don't you think we should all just give it our best shot?
I'm at least going to try. I have a steady list going already.
If you know of a World War II vet, living or that has passed on, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on social media at american_palette.