This Memorial Day, you may find yourself out on the road. It’s nearly summer, the time for graduations, cookouts, traveling to lakes, or visiting loved ones. If you’re traveling through St. Marys, KS on Highway 24, in the Flint Hills of Eastern Kansas, you’d be passing this arch.
It’s tall, imposing, but solid, still and peaceful.
Speaking of peaceful -it’s been a while since I’ve graced your inbox with my presence. A slump caused me to rethink whether or not I should take a break from blogging, or do it only monthly, rather than weekly, or as the spirit moved, or, finally, just stick to the weekly thing….Hmmm. Fingers tapping.
What did I decide?
Well, I think the weekly post is the way to go. I want the blog to be the main source of beauty and art news instead of putting it only on social media. Also, I think there’s a lot to be said for the self-discipline developed in maintaining a weekly blog post. So, unless life get a little hairy, you can look forward to the weekly bit of beauty in your inbox!
Now, back to that arch….
This WWI Memorial arch was built by the alumni of St. Mary’s Academy and College in 1923 to honor the fallen of The Great War, aka The First World War, aka World War One. Today, the arch is a peaceful place where students of successive generations gather to work in its shade, chat over some coffee; it’s also a place that makes you think of those for whom the arch was made.
While I sat and painted this monument, trying to avoid getting mowed over by the patient city lawnmowers, I found three ways to honor those who died for our country.
The first was to actually see the monuments of the fallen. If we never make time to see the monuments, we’ll forget about those people and their sacrifices.
If we never make time to see the monuments, then perhaps it would be worthwhile to not even have the monuments – but in not having the monuments, there would be no reminder, and so the sacrifices of those brave men and women would be buried by time, and we would forget our country’s story and heritage.
Drawing and Painting help one to pause, to stop, to see. While you’re seeing, you starting thinking and remembering.
The second way to honor the fallen is to remember. Do you know their history? Just as every monument will mean more if you know the story behind it, your country -your world- will mean so much more to you if you know the story behind it.
Caveat: when you start to look into history, especially that of a country, you’ll discover that countries are like people: they have their good points and bad points. Just like those people we love, we’ll have moments of admiration of our country, and moments of embarrassment too.
The third way to honor the fallen is to pray for their souls, and for the country for which they gave their lives. If we pray now for the souls of the fallen, maybe God will apply our prayers in such a way that the fallen merit happiness and glory for all eternity.
Of course, after such a contemplation of seeing, remembering, and praying, you walk away with a little perspective. (Perspective was certainly used in drawing this, teehee.) With perspective, comes gratitude.
I finished the painting. And as I walked away from the arch, I came away more grateful for my heritage, and realized that the same young men who lived, walked, and worked on the same campus I too lived and worked on, those same young men dropped all their life pursuits to answer the call of duty. Of those 700+ men who dropped all to answer their country’s call, 19 payed the ultimate price of their lives.
The tall WWI arch is a silently reminder us that to die for something greater than oneself, at the call of one’s country is certainly a noble and beautiful thing.
This Memorial Day Weekend, when you’re visiting the graves or monuments of the fallen, I hope that you’re able take a moment to see, to remember their story, and breathe a prayer for their eternal happiness.
Thanks so much for reading! Do give this a like if you enjoyed it.
Below are some of the materials I used in creating this Spring 2021 edition of the WWI Memorial Arch here in St. Marys.
I’d love it if you would check out these products below. (Note: when you click the link below, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.)
This ruler saves my life every time I do architecture! The grid really makes sure things are at the right angle:
Every outdoor excursion needs a little perk: For me it was a good drink and snack. San Pellegrino -the lemon version has some refreshing options, and is even better with a little something added to it:
Finally, this paper is so luxurious to paint on. I cut it up into smaller sections when I want something smaller to work on. I also spend less on paper. ;-):
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