Students express patriotism through art

By Pat Sunderland

Two Vision Charter Academy students are hoping their patriotic art will earn them a scholarship in a national contest sponsored by the VFW Auxiliary.

Jonathan Barrett, a senior, used acrylics to express his patriotism and a career interest in the U.S. Navy. Nicole Weaver, a junior, used pencil and colored pencil to express herself. Both artists were sponsored by VFW Auxiliary Post 3571, and have advanced through the district level to state competition.

"In my drawing, I wanted to illustrate the pride and love I have for my country," Weaver said in an essay that accompanied her artwork. "I drew 'We the People' at the top to represent the rights our country was founded on that so many brave people have lost their lives to protect. The eagle, being our nation's bird, represents freedom. This is the land of the free and the home of the brave. I wanted to make that clear in my drawing."

Barrett explains, "When I started thinking about how I should do this piece of art, I just kept thinking, 'Why is America where it is today?' and it came to me, America is only where it is today because of the men and women who have fought and died for this country.

"The "Soldiers Memorial" is for the ones who have died for us and the ones who will die for us. This country is great, because patriotic men and women have fought to make it great. Once I knew that I wanted to do the soldiers memorial, I had to figure out what I wanted to do next. I first thought, 'Well, I could just add the American flag in the background,' but I felt like it needed more. It came to me, when our military takes care of us, and if they pass away, we take care of them. I kept thinking the idea is great, however, how do I put a symbol into a painting? I needed to figure out a way to represent the American people. For me, the bald eagle has symbolized both freedom and the American people.

"In the painting, the eagle symbolizes that because the soldier is resting in peace, he is free from the burden of fighting. The eagle also represents the people because when a soldier passes we mourn for him, watch out for him and honor him. The eagle is perched on the helmet because he is watching out for those who have fallen.

"The banner that the eagle is holding in its mouth says 'Fallen, but Never Forgotten.' Even though they have died for us we will never forget them and their sacrifice.

"This painting is dedicated to those who were not able to come home."

The Young American Creative Art Award is open to high school students. A total of 51 entries will be eligible for the national competition -- one from every state and the District of Columbia.