Today in the United States, it’s Memorial Day … the day we set aside to remember all of those who have fallen in war since the establishment of our country.
While many see it as the official kick off to the summer season or an excuse to hold a sale at a business, it means much more for the families who have lost loved ones on the battle fields around the world.
In years past, I have linked to plans for flag boxes and other commemorative items to help honor the sacrifice made by these brave service men and women, but this year, I discovered probably one of the most touching woodworking projects I have ever seen.
Portrait Freedom is an initiative of more than 400 scroll saw artists to honor every fallen serviceman and women who has fallen during Operation Enduring Freedom – the global war on terror. These scrollers have one goal in mind – to cut a portrait of the fallen to present – free of charge – to the families as a symbol of their support during these difficult times. So far, they have cut more than 1,000 portraits.
Families of those who have lost loved ones are encouraged to submit a photo to the website. From there, one of the scroll saw artists who has signed on to the board will take that photo and design a portrait pattern. Once approved by the board moderators, a volunteer artist will take the pattern and cut it from 1/4″ or 1/8″ oak or birch plywood. Once completed, the portrait is gently sanded and finished with a clear coat. It is then mounted with a black background, framed and shipped to the family.
To ensure that the work is of the highest quality, multiple photos must be taken of the plans and the project and submitted for review. While the vast majority of attempts are approved, some are rejected, and the artist is asked to submit a newly designed or cut portrait if they wish.
The final step the scrollers take before they ship their work to the family is to download and customize a presentation letter that goes along with the portrait introducing themselves, explaining about the project and expressing their most sincere sorrow for their family’s loss and the appreciation of the sacrifice they have made.
The response from the families who have received these portraits has been overwhelming – not just in appreciation of the artist’s work, but how that image of their loved one means in their own personal healing process.
Thank you so much for the wooden portrait of our son. We sincerely appreciate the time and talent of Mr. Harry Savage & Mr. James Obenstine. Please be assured that these portraits will remain treasured memories of our beloved son. The kindness of so many people has given us strength. Thank you again for remembering Greg.Sincerely,Maureen and Thomas Pagano, proud parents of CPT Gregory T. Dalessio
Today, take some time out of your backyard cookout and remember what Memorial Day is all about … and, be sure to thank a veteran who may have lost a good friend on a distant battlefield many years ago – or more recently.