Portraits celebrate, remember lives of lost soldierson May 14, 2012 @ 3:19 pm (Updated: 4:47 pm - 5/14/12 )
With a biography from the family a few clear photos, Michael Reagan creates a portrait of military men and women lost to war. Sometimes, he even includes their loved ones - like one last photograph.
When Michael Reagan was a U.S. Marine during Vietnam he held a young man as he died - and watched him go, laying in his arms.
It's the eyes that have seen the pains of war up close that understood the importance of keeping the memories of a soldier alive even after they're gone, for their family.
So Reagan, who has created portraits for Presidents and a Pope, began drawing the fallen soldiers. It started when a widow asked him to draw a portrait of her husband. When he found out the man had been a soldier fighting overseas in 2003, he decided to do the portrait for free.
When that widow received the portrait, she told Reagan it was the first time she could sleep since her husband had died.
With that, Reagan was inspired. In eight years, at rate of about two portraits a day, he's completed over 2,900. As he nears 3,000 - he says that he's gained an understanding of the war that few have had the opportunity to comprehend.
"I think I'm actually in touch with the actual cost of the war," Reagan told Tony Miner in an interview for 97.3 KIRO FM's Ron & Don Show. "I don't know if there is another single person in the country who has talked to more families of fallen heroes than I have; and when I think about that - I'm pretty much awed by that idea."
Talking with the families who submit the story of their loved ones lost, along with anywhere between one or two and 40 photos, Reagan says that he promises those families to help people never forget; Never forget the sacrifices, and their loved ones' stories.
"It's my way of letting them know I care, and let them know that I'll never forget the sacrifice."
Reagan continues to create portraits of fallen soldiers for free under the "Fallen Soldier Project." You can help support the project here. You can also find the information to request a portrait here.
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