The sacrifices made by military men and women, as well as their friends and family, are recognized in a painting recently created by Norfolk artist Karl Reeder. Now, in a roundabout way, the painting is going to help enhance the quality of life of those same people.
This past summer, Reeder and friends Shannon Falk and Tim Westerhold, all of Norfolk, were trying to think of ways to honor veterans, Westerhold said.
They settled on the idea of creating a painting that would symbolize the sacrifices made not only by members of the military but also by their friends and families.
Inspiration for the artwork came from the picture of Christian Golcznski receiving the American flag from Marine Lt. Col. Ric Thompson during the funeral for Staff Sgt. Marcus Golczynski, Christian’s father. The picture, taken in 2007 by a newspaper photographer, has been popular on the Internet.
“The picture sends chills up my spine,” Reeder said. “That’s sacrifice.”
The painting Reeder created features a soldier delivering the news of a fellow-soldier’s death to a family. The soldier bearing the bad news is kneeling and appears to be asking for strength before approaching the family. The “ghost” of the soldier who died has a hand on the other soldier’s shoulder as if to comfort him or give him strength. This scene takes place in front of a house and is watched by a young boy and woman who is holding a baby. They depict the deceased soldier’s wife and children.
An American flag and a POW flag fly on a pole in front yard. A Blue Star flag hangs in the window of the house. It symbolizes that a member of the household is serving in the military.
A 1940s-era Harley Davidson and a vintage Chevy Camaro sit in the yard. A couple of special patches decorate the Harley — one symbolizes the 82nd Airborne, the unit Falk served with while in the military, and the other is the 24th Infantry patch, the unit Westerhold’s father served with during WWII.
Even the letter being delivered is accurately reproduced.
Including such fine details helps “introduce the viewer to the sorrow,” Reeder said. “We wanted to create the message of sacrifice.”
Reeder recruited family and friends to serve as models for his project. Falk is the ghost; Courtney Kenny of Norfolk is the mother; and Reeder’s son, Rylan, is the little boy. Staff Sgt. Timothy McClure, a local Army recruiter, posed as the soldier delivering the news.
Once the painting was done, a print was made, which was given to the winner of last summer’s poker run that raised money for the Legion Riders.
Instead of just hanging the painting on the wall, the trio decided to make prints available for sale with the profits going to Heroes Park, an 8-acre green space that is being developed behind the Norfolk Veterans Home.
The sale of the prints is being coordinated by Post 16 American Legion Riders. Linda Gansebom of Norfolk coordinated production of the prints, and Gale Jones of Ravenwood Art Gallery and Jeff Langholz of Eagle Vision Creations framed the prints.
Now, the original painting is on display in the lobby of Barnstormers Restaurant. Reeder hopes it will someday be displayed at the Veterans Home.
He said he hopes it will raise some money for Heroes Park.
“You can’t put a price on sacrifice,” he said.
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Prints of “Sacrifice” are available at the American Legion Club or Barnstormers Restaurant in Norfolk or by calling 402-649-2490.