Sunday, September 21, 2014

Start of "My Gold Star Family"

When you become a parent of an active duty Marine...Army...Navy...Air Force...Coast Guard, your life is different than all other parent's.

When your young warrior goes to war in a foreign country, as a parent you play a new supporting role.  While they are deployed generally you will have the Power of Attorney to help them concentrate on their mission.  You are a Blue Star Family and never want the experience a Gold Star Family.

The average age of Military at the entry level is 20 years old and you must understand some of the differences in the role they take on to understand a little of their sacrifice.  Most other kids at that age are in college 31 million between ages 18-24).  In the United States of America we have approximately 100,000 law enforcement officers and 1.5 million fire fighters.  In America, you can take a day off if you are sick and you have time that you can take off.  You can drop classes, quit school (though I would never recommend it).  You have those choices and so many more freedoms as a free society to do as you wish.

You pray a lot as a parent, sometimes several moments a day your thoughts steel away to warrior.  Forest told me I would receive a call 2 to 6 weeks and occasionally he would write.  We send care packages to remind them of this civilian life going serenely on here.  Bringing a piece of home to a very difficult place was something they all longed for as did us, when a letter would arrive.  One time I received a pair of sunglasses in a very dusty carton to replace under warranty totally crushed!  To me, a product of the very real war Forest was engaged in.  Still I longed for any news on how he was doing.  The 4:00 in the morning phone calls were not an inconvenience as I learned to place notes next to my phone, so his bleary eyed mom wouldn't forget to tell Forest.  War forever changed our roles for the good as I learned from my son what true sacrifice was all about.   I am a Blue Star Mom.


Now I am going to tell you about my Gold Star Parents and their ultimate sacrifice.  Meet Rick and Laurie, Proud Parents of Cpl Kyle Schneider, USMC, KIA.  For those of you who are not Military all those symbols and abbreviations are hard to understand.  Let me interperet Blue Star means a family that currently has a son or daughter in harms way.  A Gold Star means their son or daughter was killed in combat operations.  Kyle's rank Corporal-Cpl Kyle Schneider, United States Marine Corps-USMC, KIA-Killed In Action.

Today I am going to preview the start of "A Gold Star Family" and I will have more to post, now the business plan is finished for the EBV Foundation (take a look at the last two posts).  There are two portraits of Kyle.  Why?  Because there are two stories that need to be told from a parent's perspective and shared.  Kyle's dad Rick, was very fond of this photo as it depicted his son in a very strong and secure way in his stance and expression. That is the way a gold star dad remembers his son.

What you see here is the underpainting of a pastel start.  It lacks dimension right now but it will continue to take shape.  The lower painting is the base for a High Flow Acrylic painting and I will go into that later.

The lower will go into the series.  The pastel will go to Lori and Rick for their foundation.  The subjects in AMS-APP are unique and different facets of those who serve and this one will cover the Gold Star Parent and their beloved son Kyle who gave the ultimate sacrifice.  So in the posts to come you will learn more about the life of a heroe lived to the fullest here and Afghanistan.


Young men and women we shall never forget all they have done...












Saturday, May 24, 2014

Celebrating and Remembering My Marines, Veterans and Military Families with a Book Project



It is Memorial weekend and in order for you to understand the present, you will need to look at the time past to understand the heart of an American Hero.  Take a closer look at the Marine Corp flag tipped forward.  Notice the ribbons mounted on the top.  They represent all the wars and conflicts the USA has been in since the beginning of our country.  Think of all the servicemen and women that have given their lives so you and I can live in the freedom and peace - paid in full.  Remember them in your hearts and minds.  Know there are warriors that stand in harms way at this very moment.  Some will join the halls of  heaven today for you.

I am honoring the memory of all those who have gone on before and all
my Veteran's and their families by introducing a book project to go along with  ":A Military Series - A Parent's Perspective".  The blog that you read will be coming in book form with a twist.

Through my painting series I have created stories so you can know what our Veterans and their families have experienced, so you can know their heart and gain understanding.  I marvel at their lives and have such a deep respect for all they do.

When near a base, I have an offer to all active duty service members and their families.  What I have observed is bases and even reserve units, are looking for ways to bring their military communities together.

So, what I would like to do is ask the active duty and families to see my presentation.  The next day, I will offer a Creative Workshop in which, the participants would choose one of my paintings whose story comes closest to their own experiences.  Based on their own personal experiences and how they were affected by creating a written or fine arts piece in the workshop.  I will judge the top 10 pieces and the participants (and can be open to the base) will in turn, choose the piece they would like to see published in my book.  Then, I will make available a shutterfly book that can be ordered for all who wish to order a copy.  These communities work hard and many times because of that work, do not have the ability to build their communities.




This is Memorial weekend and it is a time to reach beyond the comforts of picnics, mowing lawns and working in gardens.  I challenge all civilians who look at this weekend as a kick off to summer vacations to take time to honor all those who serve, have served and the families that have served quietly in the background of these true American Heroes.  The peace and freedom you live in today is because of our American Warriors who have sacrificed selflessly, even with their very own lives.

We Civilians take it for granted that we do not have to live in fear like the haunting face of the girl on National Geographic's June 1985 cover photo.  You and I have not had to live in a life filled with fear and destitution from a country's whose very soul has been pummeled by the ravages of war.

For the many of service men and women I have asked "Why serve?" and "What brought you to this decision to fight for America?".  The answer: "I wanted to make the world a better place", "I wanted to make a difference and here is where I can do just that", or  "I was called to serve my country".  There heart in all they have done since the beginning of this country in 1776 is, "I did this for you".

We live in a freedom that was paid for by the attitude that there is something far greater than ourselves to think about. So this Memorial day pull out your flag.  If your flag is old, replace it.  Retire your old ones respectfully by bringing it to a Watch Fire event near you.  In Central NY, the event will be at the NY State Fairgrounds - click into this link for more info  https://www.google.com/url .

What can you do to help honor our Veterans.  Remember them.  Go to a parade, walk through cemeteries filled with flags, a memorial service, a Watchfire event.  Watch the Veterans as the National Anthem is played.  Watch the salute and the flags they bear, the rifle salutes and look at their eyes.  Those eyes have seen more than we can imagine. They are remembering their brothers and those moments that have gone on before them.


If you know a Veteran that lives in your neighborhood, shake their hand.  Ask them if there is anything you can do for them.  Hire them if they are looking for a job, network with them and give a good recommendation.  If there is a military family that has moved in, welcome them.  Bring them into your world and let them know how special they are.  Wrap your arms around the families that have lost a son, daughter or spouse.  America, never forget those that have given you so much.  Hug a Gold Star Mom and keep their families in your heart.  I love my heroes.  You are free because of them.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

"A Military Series - A Parent's Perspective" Takes a New Turn with EBV-F

If you want  to capture the vision of EBVF and why I need to bring "A Military Series - A Parent's Perspective", around the country as a not for profit business; this applies to what I see.

Last week, I had the privilege to be a part of and now, am a graduate of the Institute for Veterans and Families at Syracuse University.  The Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans Families (EBV-F) had an online class the month before, a residency week at the Whitman School of Management, and sometimes we slept at the Sheraton next door.  There were "25 Amazing Women and One Man"!  What an inspiration they are!  Every business idea was focused in one way or another to help our Veterans and the communities they serve from all over our country, one from Hawaii and another whose husband is now stationed in England.  As I was presented with my plaque and had a challenge coin slapped into my hand, I hugged it, went to my seat and just wept.  Thank you EBV-F; I am learning to do the business right and filling in the holes of what I do not know.  Another part of my journey is beginning.


This is what I discovered within me:  I am a "Social Entrepreneur", that means I have something to teach, to enlighten people about a cause.  Definitely I am a "bootstrapper".  Definitely, I am in need of funding and grants because there is no capital here!  And, I say it with whimsy because inside I believe, it too will fall into place with a lot of work and effort.  The decision to make this series a 501c3 not for profit organization is because I had met with resistance in planning certain events who wanted non profits only.  By having that status I will be able, in most cases to sell my "Heroes Among Us Poster Project", which are posters of the paintings in the series selling for $30.00 each to help partially fund and move the series around the country.  I will need to have sponsors and partners in helping "A Military Series - A Parent's Perspective", so I will be incorporating that into the business and website (that is still under construction-keep hitting the blog to read more on the series as I go).  And thank you for all your support through the years.  It has been a pleasure writing since I started way back in 2011!

As a Social Entrepreneur, it is my passion to teach what it is like for our Veterans and their families currently serving and those also who have returned home.  There are Heroes Among Us and America, you need to know who your heroes are.  I am teaching through my 20 paintings their experience from a parents perspective because, as a civilian, I want to pull you into understanding the warrior who is coming home.  There are stories of courage, fear, sadness, joy, protectors, defenders of freedom, exhaustion, relentless commitment, and a sense of peace in the midst of chaos.

I didn't get into this for the accolades of a Portrait Artist or to be seen.  It wasn't born out of weakness, while I bit off my fingernails during Forest's deployments.  Not so much a way to make sense of this thing called War but as a way to express their experience so America can understand.  There are Heroes Among Us.  I bring them honor and a sense of connection to our country they have sacrificed so dearly for.  Some are in harms way right now, some are on a base, and many are back here in our neighborhoods.  Do you know them?  They are beautiful men and women.  Warriors, protectors who carry with them the fabric of all that makes this country so blessed.  And I, will tell their stories, I promise.

As Mike Haynie observed, I have to.  Please take time to watch an incredible Veteran, Teacher and leader, Mike you are my hero for your vision in how to make a difference for our Veterans.  Thank you, I am so blessed to know you and I see that big heart.  http://www.youtube.com/attribution_link?a=2gt9Kc2W3IE&u=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DoSWhIUiGang%26list%3DPLRn-1Cxfnb622BJNrj9k6iN77-3MYS9pp%26feature%3Dshare%26index%3D1

So, after Mike's talk and what you experience through "A Military Series - A Parent's Perspective", connect with a Vet.  You won't just shake his hand now, but you will understand their need to be connected and welcomed back into the country they have so diligently protected and served.  Hire them, you couldn't ask for better skill sets.  Ask how you can make their life better?  That is an open ended question and you never know the incredible answers that may come your way.  Open your hearts and respond as best you can!

Next Month I will be at the 4th tank Battalion' event.  I will have more details as the 1st Sgt will be giving soon.  I cannot wait to tell their stories once again.  More to come

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Evening Presentation with a Marine Escort, Heroes Among Us Poster Project

Thank You, Thank you, Thank you all who came out last night to The Art Store where I presented "A Military Series - A Parent's Perspective among so many friends, family, fellow artists and my Veterans.  I was escorted by Sgt Charles Toro, USMC in those beautiful dress blues up to our gallery space and I am so honored to have one of my heroes do that for me.  If you are reading this Charles, I thank you again.  I have to say I am such a fan of my Marines.  At Camp Lejeune the 3/6 called me a Marine Momma, it was earned and forever I will be. The exhibit will be up for the next two weeks.  On Monday I will have a synopsis of each story to post below each painting.

Below is the launching of a new "Heroes Among Us" Poster Project of each of the paintings available at $30.00 each.  Collect them all!  My giclee prints are also available, check out the gallery pages and order one. The proceeds will go to help the series move around the country.  There are several events that will be coming up in Mattydale, NY, Cayuga Community College and I am working on 1st Marine division's Reunion in Charleston, SC.

Heroes Among Us

1% of our population in the USA is serving in our 
military and currently in harms way at this very moment.  For the rest of the 99% of American Citizens, we hear and see news about the 14 year long war in Afghanistan.  Once aired, we generally put it away in our mind without comprehending just what they are doing out there.  I am a parent with a story, not just to tell, but a bridge to build by teaching about their sacrifice through my painting series, "A Military Series - A Parent's Perspective".


There are heroes among us;
they are coming home America!

Do you know who your Heroes are?

You can also help me get this series out to
America about what our heroes have sacrificed for the freedoms they protect for you and I.  When you purchase a giclee or poster prints from my collection of
"A Military Experience - A Parent's Perspective", you will help bring these stories
around our nation. 


 

Time to focus on several paintings in the works.  I will be working on an acrylic of Lcpl Danny Thoryk, USMC and his dog.  How does "The Dog Handler" sound for a title? Danny's Grandparents Pat and Bunny were at the presentation last night. Remember the shark that made its way into the story "A Time For Peace"?  Pat was responsible for that shark.  Hmmm!  Maybe their ought to be a Susquatch for Danny's dog to find.  More to come on that story.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Presentation Jan 24th and "Heroes Among Us" Poster Project

On Friday, January 24th I will present "A Military Series - A Parent's Perspective"  at the Art Store 935 Erie Blvd East Syracuse NY 13210.  This is a full presentation as I walk through all of the paintings and their stories.  Please come.  It would be an honor to have you there.
              You are Cordially invited to the
Presentation and Art Opening Of

“A Military Series—A Parent’s Perspective”






By Sharon A. Blair, Proud Mom of
Cpl  Forest Blair, USMC

Join in on the “Heroes Among Us”
Poster Project Sale and Share their Stories



I will also be launching my "Heroes Among Us" Poster Project.  More to come.  Invite day and I will be running around to invite people.  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Look Into The Celebrations of our Young Warriors




My Marines have taught me so much through these years since Forest earned that title.  Their families shaped and developed the warriors heart without realizing the part they played.  A young person takes a look at a great big world to step into and decides there is a difference to be made.  Someone has to step up to take on the task. Somewhere deep inside themselves they answer a call that quietly beckoned the warrior within to the final leg of a challenge called the Crucible.  In the end these young men and women earned the title Marine.  Now is their time.  What was instilled by their families becomes something to protect.  This warrior will shield, protect and   Thier battle cry: "Oorah" and always "Semper Fidelis" (always faithful).  I chose this picture to be one of my portraits because I want America to know know that these warriors are young and Lcpl Borio is the perfect example of the average age that starts in to represent our country.

At the 2013 Veteran's Day Parade and Expo their stories were shared again and the Marine Corp Ball was a celebration I will not forget.

Sorry I have not finished this post sooner; (it sat in a draft for the month of December).  Christmas and New Year have come and gone.  I have been very busy with the season and the commission work. We have a new year upon us and a very full one indeed.  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

So Exciting! A Week For Our Heroes

Yes this is an exciting week for me.  First of all look at this! http://npaper-wehaa.com/syracusenewtimes/2013/11/06/?article=2065516   Forest is on the front cover of the Syracuse New Times during this week of remembering our Veterans.

I have been interviewed by many journalists in the past; this one, is the best. I am so grateful to Larry Dietrich, the editor of the Syracuse New Times, my good friend and great artist Meaghan Arbital, designer and all the staff.  Thank you from the bottom of this Marine Momma's heart to all the staff who helped get my deepest heart message out to America.

Many times people want to know why I did "A Military Series - A Parent's Perspective", assuming I did it as a way to cope with my worries of Forest being in a war.  That is not the reason I painted these.  It is about their stories, their experiences and how a parent sees a warriors service.  Not just her own son, but the many warriors and the resilient families that proudly stand behind them.   To be "coping with the worries of Forest being at war" would be cowering and weak.  You learn to seek the things that make you strong. My faith kept me strong, even during my darkest hours I was not alone.  My Syracuse Marine Parents listened to me when I feared and built me up. There were many hours spent talking with my 3rd Marine 6th Battalion parents, relationships that are strong and steadfast. My son and every Veteran old and young that I have met, who by example taught me to be brave.  In the midst of all they were going through, I learned to walk tall; I had nothing to complain about.   I painted out of strength and purpose, learning so much about Forest and myself during this time.  What this painting series mission"s purpose is done is out of gratitude for my warriors and the bridge I am building to teach America about their service.  Thank you for all you do.

Come to the Veterans Parade and Expo at the New York State Fairgrounds Saturday the 9th from 10 - 3 with a parade at 10 and the expo all day!  I will be debuting "Our Kids Meet Their Kids".  Check out their ev everydayness in a warzone taking time to stop and share a little one on one fun with the local kids in Afghanistan.  You wonder what kind of job skills a Machine Gunner might have to fit into a job here in America?  Try Embassador, Teacher, Interpreter, Negotiator and think about all the possibilities. Their stepping into the lives of children who live in such an impoverished war torn country sets a tone that I pray lasts generations.  You change the world for the better one step at a time.

So America come see who your Heroes are today.