Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lest We Forget... Heroes and Friends

It flurried here this morning, further adding to the numbness that we all experience as the harsh reality of winter's cold physically sets upon us. Gone is most of the ribald hardwood colour of October. Pockets of browns and russets linger in the waves of oak that sweep the landscape... as do glimmering golden remnants of softwood copses engulfed in their midst. The landscape takes on a silent sullenness. The River cleaves out a less inviting... even threatening gutter of gun metal greyness before us. River traffic is now sporadic to non-existent... a dangerous place for the unwary or foolhardy. It is a highway to only the most hardy and experienced "River Rats" who must travel travel it daily until freeze up to finish up their island projects begun during summer.

November is a bitter-sweet month for me personally. It is on one hand looked forward to joyfully because we celebrate my eldest "child" Lisa's and my second youngest Liam's birthdays... both at the end of the month. But lodged in the middle is Remembrance Day on November 11th. The dullness and pervasive grayness of November seem conducive to a sense of mourning and loss.

I have always physically gone to cenotaph ceremonies and taken full classes when I taught during my entire life. Like so many other Canadian citizens, I do so to offer my ongoing gratitude and respect for the sacrifice of all Canadian service men and women... living or not. Their sacrifices have offered me and so many others the personal freedom and quality of life that few other generations... past ... present or future will ever be granted. I am blessed... and forever grateful for their gift


Captain Matthew Johnathan Dawe 1980-2007

Since July 7th, 2007... Remembrance Day became personal for me when my son Andrew's close school and hockey chum, Captain Matt Dawe, Company "C", 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia Light Infantry perished with five of his company and an interpreter in a single road side bomb explosion in Kandahar, Afghanistan. For his Family members, his Brothers-in-Arms and his many Friends ... and "Me"... Remembrance Day will forever have a face- Matthew's.

I was so troubled by his loss that I actually created a painting to help heal my own deep feeling of loss... numbness and helplessness... that this brilliant young comet that had lit our sky so briefly had been extinguished forever. I hoped that my painting might keep his memory alive in a small way, so I gifted it to his wife Tara and his infant son Lucas. They were grateful of the gift... and I felt less numb simply by "painting out" a part of my grief.

I was approached back in September by a Victoria Edwards, a graduate of Royal Military College making Matthew and all of his family members a part of her alumnus family. She had, by chance stumbled upon my blog entry and the picture of the painting which I had given to The Dawe Family. She asked if it might be possible obtain permission to have the image enlarged as a giclee image on canvas to be hung in the Band Room at Royal Military College. I told her that would feel highly honoured to have that occur... provided that Tara Dawe be contacted to add her permission as well.

I later read in the September 2013  issue of  the RMC on line publication "eVeritas" that the reproduction was presented on September 28th at RMC Club Annual Dinner. It would be permanently hung  in Yeo Hall in the Pipes and Drums practice room beginning at the 60th Reunion Weekend festivities. What a gratifying feeling this gesture offers to everyone involved. I am deeply touched by this gesture. Art Matters... in a very special way.


"Where Have All the Flowers Gone" - oil on panel 12x10 inches
 Gifted to Mrs Tara Dawe and her son Lucas

I apologize for preempting my previous focus on the value and necessity of structure in painting. However, this post was necessary and a more fitting post for today. I will most certainly post the paintings I have created in the interim after Remembrance Day to complete my thoughts and ideas regarding structure as the backbone for successful landscape painting. Ironically though, this small still life tribute painting "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" truly boldly embodies the same important role and strength in its structure. Its simple structure based upon four elements clearly defines visual focus... composition and intended symbolism in the work.

"Heroes Were Once Children"

In closing, I recently came across an article relating to a headline for a child's book review in the January 19th, 2003 edition of The Los Angeles Times. The headline read:

The illustrated children's book, entitled : My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up With Dr Martin Luther King, Jr was written by Christine King Farris and illustrated by Chris Soenpiet (Simon and Schuster-2003). The book is a stirring autobiographical account of her shared childhood years and memories of this Human and Civil Rights Leader... expressed in words and images which stir courage and better understanding of a simple reality that all of us are capable of becoming heroes. True Heroes emerge not from their dreams or vision alone... but more from their lives of selfless actions and deeds. In many cases, they act unswervingly and passionately with the full knowledge that they might sacrifice their own lives in order that their dreams are actualized.

In the book , when Martin faces alienation from playmates simply because he is "Negro"...Mother (Dear) King offers: "[Whites] just don't understand that everyone is the same, but some day it will be better."

"Mother Dear, replies young Martin, "One day I'm going to turn the world upside down."

His selflessly driven lifetime work and sacrifice have done so forever for his people and the world at large.

In the same way that Dr King was simply Martin Jr, a wee, insignificant and innocent boy... he did not merely dream of the mountain. He took us there. And on the top of that mountain... "somewhere out there..." Martin.... Matt Dawe and a host of other "Heroes and Friends"... stand forever immortal in the hearts and minds of those who knew them. We, who choose to remember... will NEVER forget them, or their sacrifice. Their torch has been passed. Hold high your own Light and make it shine however it can... if only in simple daily acts of kindness... and they will be remembered... on each and every day of the year.

Attend a cenotaph celebration on Remembrance Day or Veteran's Day, November 11th. Seek out at least one veteran... and personally offer your gratitude to them and their comrades. Let them know that their service mattered then...  now... and always!

Much Peace... and Good Painting to ALL!




10 comments:

  1. So happy to read that Matt's wife Tara also gave her permission for this painting to be re-printed for the Academy. It is a gorgeous piece and it hurts to know of another young man who gave his life for his country. Both my dad and my uncle served in the Army as did my husband, my daughters' dad, and yes, even myself. We were the lucky ones. Thanks Bruce.

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  2. HI there Sherry!... Thank you for offering your thoughts and own personal reasons for Remembrance!

    I feel deeply honoured... at more at peace within myself knowing that my gesture has been passed forward to serve Mathew's memory in a lasting way that I had not hoped for!

    Much Peace... and Good Painting!

    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  3. A very moving post today Bruce yet vital that we do not forget those who gave their lives so that we and the children of today be free and can experience peace and security.

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  4. A great title for your painting, Bruce!"Where Have All The Flowers Gone"...the poignant last line..."When Will They Ever Learn, When Will They Ever Learn?"

    I really loved that Peter, Paul and Mary song...much meaning.
    Your painting will come alive in many hearts and minds...a beautiful tribute to those that are so deserving of support and thanks.
    I keep my Grandson in prayer. He is in the National Guard and has served one deployment to Afghanistan.
    God Bless the troops.

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  5. Hi there Caroline!... Good to hear from you!

    We are all of us in our separate nations fortunate to have had individuals of courage and conscience... prepare to sacrifice their all... so that we could live freely... without threat or impediment and in in peace.

    I am so very grateful to these men and women and their surviving famiy members for these gifts.

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  6. Hi there Dean!... I share your love of this anthem of Peace and like you, I wonder... "when will they ever learn"?????

    I offer my prayers and thanks to your young family service man for his willingness to defend our common values and dreams of peace. Offer thanks on my behalf to "Him" for his service!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  7. A most fitting and beautiful post!

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  8. Thank you Suz!... Very often Art... because it knows no borders can serve as a strong reminder of the things that matter most in Life!

    Good Painting!
    Much Peace and Hugs!
    Bruce

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  9. A beautiful post Bruce. God Bless all the men and women who have served.

    All the best to you for honoring Captain Mathew.

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  10. Hi Joan!... Thanks for adding your thoughts on this Remembrance Day post. We should always remember these men., women and their families each and every single day that we move with Freeedom in our own precious daily lives.

    I will never forget Matthew... nor will my family. His memory will always remain fresh and forever vn our hearts.

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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