Published 7:00 pm Thursday, July 4, 2013
It may come in the simple form of a watermelon-spitting contest, a chance to gaudily, but proudly, display your red, white and blue bathing suit or the annual release of your closeted pyromania.
That time of year when we partake in all things American, however you freely choose to do so, has again arrived.
Independence Day is a climactic mid-summer show of patriotism and a celebration of, well, independence. But it’s also about the hard-fought and continuing efforts to ensure those freedoms we have been given, a thought often overlooked.
For Stevie Bullock the cost of freedom is never forgotten.
“My family and I try to remember that we gained our freedom from people that fought for it,” she said. “We appreciate all the men and women out there that have given so much for us.”
So when a friend presented her with an opportunity to return the favor, the freelance illustrator jumped at the chance.
Bullock is putting her artistic skills to use at the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post through her painting. Her mural, encompassing the south wall of the building, features scenes of the battles fought by the members, bringing to life the otherwise drab, cinder-block interior as well as providing a crowning centerpiece of recognition.
“Soldiers have done so much, risked so much, sacrificed so much for myself and the rest of this country,” she said. “I wanted to give back to them, and this is the only way I have to give back.”
Bullock is working alongside Home Depot representatives in an overall renovation of the building. Home Depot obtained a grant to furnish labor and materials for the refurbishment.
Bullock’s process starts with projecting a sketched image onto the roughly 30-by-10 foot wall. She then follows those lines with charcoal and finally fills it in with paint.
So far, the lofty composition includes a fleet of battleships, fighter jets flying in formation, a tank brigade and the famous flag-hoisting at Iwo Jima.
“I wanted to include all aspects of the armed forces,” she said.
Bullock plans to finish the mural with a portrait of the man that Brookhaven’s VFW Post 2618 was dedicated to – Capt. Danny Entrican.
As a member of the 5th Special Forces Group in the Vietnam War, Entrican went missing in action after a stealth mission in to neighboring Laos.
“They didn’t even know whether he was still alive or not,” Post Commander Billy Hughes somberly explained. “They attempted to rescue him, but he never did come back.”
Entrican’s enormous sacrifice, along with countless others’ in the armed forces, inspired Bullock to take on the project.
As small as they may be in comparison, Bullock is making some sacrifices of her own to complete the mural. With two-year-old son Jaxon on her hip and three-year-old son Cale in close tow, she explained the option of finding a babysitter is not always available. Still she finds time in her busy schedule to make the little, but significant, sacrifices for those that gave so much for her.
“She has to come at the convenience of her babysitter,” Hughes said. “We have to be real thankful that you can find someone of that character to sacrifice their time to do something like this for us.”