Story Behind the Painting
I visited Arlington Cemetery in March of 2009 and was truly moved. When I got up close to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, I couldn’t help but imagine all the various wars and situations our combat soldiers must have experienced and just how many people are represented by this one monument. Apparently, 78,000 Americans are still classified as Missing from WWII alone.
The camouflage collage in the center tomb square was created based on several actual government historical photos. I chose a collage theme of Army green and gold to reiterate the anonymity of these soldiers. The Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, Desert Storm I, and the Iraq War are represented, although many of these images can apply to any conflict. A few interesting facts about the photos include – the upper left-hand Civil War shot is of African Americans, arguably the most heroic of that time; the plane is a B-25 Bomber like my grandfather Richard Appenzeller flew; the lone trench runner is from Okinawa not Germany as I had always assumed; and the WWI gas mask trench photos were taken primarily in France.
I have two grandfathers (1st Lieutenant, Army - John Robert Mayer and 1st Lieutenant, Army Air Corps - Richard Dodge Appenzeller) as well as a father-in-law (Sargeant Major, Army - Elvis Hubbard Bauer) who fought in WWII. They are honored on the right hand side as part of a separate tribute to returned soldiers. Interestingly, they each fought a different arm of the enemy nations (Philippines, Italy, and Normandy Beach). John Mayer (my mother's father) is a recipient of the Bronze Star and at 90 years old is still alive and well today, lifting weights and getting regular cardiovascular exercise just as an Army Instructor would! Please encourage your state congressmen to support Veterans' benefits!
Here is a link to interesting facts about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for more information. I think all Americans should make a point to visit Arlington Cemetery sometime in their lifetime to pay respect to all the men and women in uniform who have served our country.