Sunday, October 22, 2006

An Angel with a Pencil

I had the great pleasure to meet Michael G. Reagan on Friday, when he came to speak about his Fallen Heroes Project. This is the time of year when our company encourages us to give back to the community, in time and in donations. One of my co-workers invited him to speak about his work, and I now know what angels look like, because I've met Mike.

Mike is an artist, and he has a gift for creating sketches that bring a person to life. For the last three years, he has been making sketches for families of those who've been killed in military service in the GWOT. Himself a Vietnam veteran, he will not take money from the families. He takes the photos sent to him, talks with the family members about the kind of image they want, creates his magic, and mails the finished drawing - and not a dime is accepted for it.

If you aren't yet familiar with Mike's work, then you should visit his online gallery to see just a few of the more than 400 sketches he has created so far. He's not done, because he hasn't finished drawing all of the fallen troops, and he plans to spend as long as it takes to provide an image for every single fallen man and woman, at the request of their family.

As Mike talked about the evolution of this project, he explained that he realized this work is the most important thing he has done in his life, and it has nothing to do with politics and one's feelings about government or policy. It is all about love and respect - for the fallen heroes, and for their families.

Towards the end of his talk, Mike mentioned one of the drawings on his list to do soon. He said it would be special, because it involves a Marine who tried to shield his fellow Marines, including his military working dog, and Soldiers from a bomber who approached a line of police recruits. As soon as he explained this, I said "You're going to draw Adam Cann?", which took him back a second. But he confirmed that the Marine he was speaking of was Sgt. Adam Cann, who was killed on Jan. 6th of this year. He asked if I was a friend of Adam's, and I explained that I never knew him, but knew of him from another Marine. My blogson America's Son, was a friend of Adam's felt his loss personally, writing eloquently about his reaction.

If you have wondered about a way to help the families of our fallen heroes to deal with the loss of their loved one, this is a wonderful way to help them heal. Go to the Fallen Heroes Project site, and read some of the letters from the families who have received a drawing of their loved one from Mike. Letters like this:

Dear Michael, we just received the portrait of my son A.J. and I am just amazed. I feel as though I am truely gazing into my son's eyes. You have captured my son's likeness right down to the smallest detail. You are a very gifted man, as you already know. Yes, Our Father has given you a special talent and we are all lucky you found it. From one veteran to another, I thank you. May God always shine his light upon you and your family.

We just returned last night from a trip to Colorado and the young lady that was taking care of our house put your package on the kitchen counter. I knew the minute I saw the package that it was the picture of Michael. WOW! I cannot describe the feelings that my husband and I had when we opened the package. It was Michael looking at us with those sparkling eyes and warm smile. You are truly a gifted artist and can capture that special look that everyone has. Our family will always treasure this work of art and I hope that you know that you gave us back our Michael. I will have it matted and framed to protect it and put it in a place of honor.

Take some time to read about the project, and consider donating if you can. Mike needs to continue this work, there are more families who need comfort.