27 December 2018

WE HAVE THE WATCH

WE HAVE THE WATCH
By Andy Weddington
Thursday, 27 December 2018




We come, not to mourn our dead soldiers, but to praise them. Francis A. Walker



During the last couple of years I know of six United States Navy Sailors returned to family for burial.

The Sailors, crew of the USS Oklahoma, killed in combat.

Not yesterday. 

Death came Sunday, 07 December 1941 - Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The disaster resulting from Japan's surprise attack, and science of the day, made identification of hundreds and hundreds of remains impossible. 

The unidentified interred en mass.

America does not forget her battlefield fallen.

With DNA science and dogged research commingled remains become individual lives. 

In some cases, mere fragments confirm identity.

But identity is identity. 

And identity is closure.  

For the six, an admiral led the burial details.

Meeting family, some surviving siblings, an emotional experience.

I've heard the stories. Gripping. 

Recently, my honor to attend two; small communities in Iowa. 

Quietly observing, the emotional experience understood.

Cemetery scenes have silently flickered through memory - like early moving pictures. 

Fragments; like the remains. Black and White. Color. Jerky. Scratchy. Blurry.  

Playing over and over and over. 

I have sketched. 

And thought. 

And heeded the haunting advice of Thoreau, "Simplify. Simplify."

All to project the moving pictures into one powerful shot. 

One shot.

The shot that haunts.

The shot, "America does not forget her battlefield fallen."

A canvas that not longer satisfied set upon easel, upside down.

Big gobs of few colors on palette. 

First, simple abstract shapes. The essence. 

With big brushes it did not take long.

Stop.

The following day, slightly less big brush - to adjust shape relationships. 

That, too, did not take long.

Stop. 

Finished. 

It's taken more than 50 years of painting to do that. 

Christmas morning the painting - the one frame - gifted to that admiral. 

Emotional; for sobering duty, for memories praising our battlefield fallen.

Title unsettled.

The admiral thought and said ...

"We Have The Watch"

Yes, we do. 


'We Have The Watch'
oil on canvas
24 x 30 inches