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...
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...
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
Onslow Outdoor Painters Society (OOPS)