Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bernie's Ramblings: "A Tribute to Gold Star Moms"

For me, as an artist, painting is a struggle. Struggle in the sense that I force myself to adhere to an almost daily routine of painting. Too many times life gets in the way and painting has to take a back seat... but sometimes life gets in the way and inspiration comes. When this happens it's as if the painting takes on a life of its own. It's as if divine intervention takes over... this painting has such a story.

"A Tribute to Gold Star Moms" by Bernie Rosage Jr.
10x8" Oil on Linen, en plein aire, April 2008.
(click on image to enlarge)

The painting started from a typical monthly "Paint Out" with a group of plein air artists that gather once a month to paint scenes form our county. We call ourselves OOPS... Onslow Outdoor Painters Society. We live in a military conscious area... home of Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base. Our April "Paint Out" was at the Beirut Memorial... a beautiful and significant spot.

Beirut Memorial, Jacksonville, NC
The OOPS artists were scattered throughout the site painting from various vantage points... I opted for a close up of the statue's boots. Since I was positioned at the focal point of the memorial I had the opportunity to meet many nice people. Two of those people opened my eyes and broke my heart. Let me explain...

Bernie plein air painting at the Beirut Memorial...
Two ladies approached me, commented on my painting and one asked for a business card... as we talked she told me... "my son is buried over there"... motioning to the Veterans Cemetery adjacent to the memorial. I was taken back... she was my age and her son was close in age to my three oldest children. I'm used to burials of WWII, Korean, and Vietnam veterans over there... older veterans who lived full lives... not someone my children's age. She (wish I could remember her name) mentioned her son was killed in 2004 and that her friend's (Anita I think??, from Virginia) son was killed less than a year ago. My eyes were opened to how real this war is and my heart ached for these two ladies. I noticed one lady wearing a "Gold Star" necklace knowing well what it represented since my wife's grandmother was a Gold Star mom... losing her oldest son in Korea in 1950. When I got home... I added the necklace to my painting as a tribute to these two anonymous ladies, their impact one me, and Gold Star moms everywhere. I have four children of my own... my mind can't even imagine what Gold Star moms and families go through... please accept my humble tribute to you.
Close up of painting showing necklace...

As I write this... an AP Release was just printed stating that the US troop death toll for April pushes a 7-month high in Iraq. Whatever your politics... I think everyone agrees that we must be ever mindful and prayerful of our men and women in the military service of our great country. The AP also announced today that at least 4,059 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003. To some people... this is a number... but to many... it represents lives shaken to their very foundations. I'm talking about the family and friends of this 4,059 and unfortunately... the numbers to come. I don't mean to detract any thing from the brave souls who gave their full measure for country and comrades... their sacrifice will and SHOULD be remembered for all future generations just like they are at this special memorial.

I'm talking to those family members left behind whose lives in a single moment were changed forever... a moment they relive and can recount with clarity in such a way it almost seems surreal. People who associate everything before and after that defining moment. They know what it's like to have lifelong friends loose touch because those friends don't know what to say so they say nothing. On the flip side... they have heard comments they knew were meant in kindness and comfort but cut their hearts to the quick. People who long to hear someone mention their son's, daughter's, husband's, wife's, dad's, mom's, brother's or sister's name in ordinary conversation so they know they are not forgotten. A remembrance of their dear loved one...
My prayer is for...

...for the world and for Gold Star Moms and families everywhere.

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments... Click here... comments

Please forward this blog post to any Gold Star moms and veterans you know and let them know you appreciate them. Thanks...

In Faith,
Bernie Rosage Jr.

PS... If you are a Gold Star mom... I want to hear from you and send you a digital image of this painting as a gift and tribute. Simply email me with "Gold Star Mom" in the subject line (I won't open any emails without it due to spam). Please share a special memory about your son or daughter.

To email Bernie... click HERE...

This candle burns in
memory of those we
miss and love...

Various Links:

American Gold Star Mothers, Inc.

Gold Star Family Support by Marine Parents

Gold Star Parents

Gold Star Siblings

Gold Star Wives of America, Inc.

Gold Star Mothers Club

Beirut Memorial

Weeping Willows

Onslow Outdoor Painters Society (OOPS)


Anonymous said...


What a beautiful email from you regarding our boys and girls who have fought, continue to fight, and those who have given their lives for our freedom. We can never forget the sacrifices our soldiers and their loved ones have made for us. What a thoughtful gesture on your part to remind us again.

Anonymous said...

Bernie ,
Thank you so much for this lovely tribute, people forget that the ones left behind are the real victims of these great tragedies.
It is refreshing to see patriotism alive and well in America.
My son-in-law is in Iraq and my daughters' best friend was killed a couple of years ago. Thank you for reminding people to remember their families.
Cathy Cooksey

Doris Glovier said...

A thoughtful and meaningful tribute, Bernie. The painting is beautiful. Paintings that tell a story and express emotion are a gift. This one is extraordinary.

Larry Seiler said...

dang cool, Bern...and heart felt.

My father...and I both navy veterans, he the end of WWII and the end of the Nam era. My father sat on decks of ships to observe the tests of the Bikini Atolls, Marshall Islands. Said after a hydrogen bomb detonation that he and sailors (wearing sunglasses) could see the bones of their hands holding the hand up.

Took near 40 years, but he died at 61 of a lung cancer that the government doesn't want to own up as it deals with what is known as the atomic veterans. They were willing to say perhaps he was exposed to asbestos aboard old ships, and granting him meslothelioma my mother was awarded a compensation.

I still think of him as a casualty of the cold war, though it took so long.

I myself have a 30% disability service connected...

We are all touched in some way by past and present service of young men and women, are we not. May we certainly value the freedoms so many sacrificed that we might enjoy them.

Thanks Bern...a moving work...a fitting tribute!


aliciasotherland said...

Hi Bernie,
Met you via e-mail through The WC and your heartfelt comments you sent to me.
You speak from the heart Bernie,
which is admirable.
I speak from the heart when I say I want our troops home.
I want an end to this useless war based on greed and selfish intentions.
Started with lies and it continues with horrible deaths and sadness.
Thank you for the opportunity to leave a comment.
Peace..begins with us.
Alicia Sotherland

Jennylynne said...


I love this painting. In 2004, our son was critically injured in Iraq but he did survive. I watch his daily struggles with aftermath of his injuries but feel so blessed that he is here and still in our lives. Every parent should hug and love their child on a daily basis-you never know when that opportunity may be lost to you forever.
In his honor and in gratefulness for his survival, I started a project called Grateful Hearts. We do portraits for families in Missouri and Kansas who have lost loved ones either in Afghanistan or Iraq. The portraits are totally free of charge. We do not allow any politics of any kind on the part of the participating artist-it is strictly voluntary on the part of the artists involved.
What a gift children are in our lives. Thank you for caring.

Bernie Rosage Jr. said...

JennyLynne... Please send me the web address to your special artists site... I would love to feature it on this thread.

Bernie Rosage Jr. said...

JennyLynne, Larry, Alicia, Cathy, and Doris... Thank you so much for your thoughts about the painting and the importance or people. Bless each of you...