SHIRLEY -- The faces in the portraits on display at Hazen Memorial Library were familiar to most of the folks who attended an opening reception. Really familiar.
Created by local artist Kim Mellema-Reid, the 13 portraits are of Shirley war veterans, some of whom attended. The exhibit will be at the library until the end of May.
Not only reflecting history, but also framing it for future generations, these characteristically depicted, evocative images are of ordinary people who earned a place in history. Sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents, friends and mentors, these men and women have roots here, some dating back a lifetime.
The Portrait Gallery
Five of the veterans in the portraits have passed away.
Sigmund "Ziggy" Wesolowski served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
Stanley Jurga, a past American Legion Post #183 commander, served in the U.S. Air Corps during WWII.
Edmond "Mike" Landry was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Force during WWII.
Harold Landry was a sergeant in the U.S. Air Force during WWII and was also a past Shirley American Legion Post commander.
John Hebert served in the Army under Gen. George Patton and was the Legion Post's unofficial historian. Before his death a few years ago, Hebert was honored in a special ceremony held at the Library.
Two of the veterans died overseas during WWII.
While serving in the U.S. Army Air Force, Joseph Nowokunski was killed in action.
Hubert "Tootsie" Dupray was serving in the U.S. Army Air Force when he was lost at sea while aboard the Troop ship U.S.S. Dorchester.
Much could be said about these men and the other war veterans Mellema-Reid brought into vivid focus in these portraits. Of the stars and stripes they saluted and those they earned. Of memories, military honors, close calls and brave deeds. Of their civilian lives, personal and professional accomplishments, interests and inventions, friends and family ties, threads woven into the fabric of the town.
Common to all was their service to a nation at war and for that they are all honored now.
Donald Lambert was in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War and served onboard a submarine, the U.S.S. Lionfish.
Raymond Farrar served in the U.S. Army during WWII.
Robert "Bob" Lambert, another past Legion Post commander, was a master sergeant in the U.S. Army during WWII; his wartime credits include D-Day.
Women's Army Corps (W.A.C.) veteran Ann (Ginter) Lambert was stationed stateside during WWII.
WWII veteran Norman Albert was a PFC in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving both overseas and in the United States.
WWII Army veteran Athanace "Joe" Landry served overseas and was in combat during the Battle of the Bulge and other famed European battles, including Normandy.
Navy veteran Roseanna (Landry) Quatrale was a Yeoman, 3rd class, during WWII.
The youngest member of Shirley's own hero's hall of fame is Allen Flagg. As an Army master sergeant and quartermaster, he served during modern conflicts from 1991 to 2008, including Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Desert Farewell. He also served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Big Ice, National Guard.
Alternately pensive, penetrating, amused, serious, captured as younger versions of themselves or in recent time, the spirit of each subject is beautifully captured, offering silent testimony to their wartime experiences as well as their character.
Those still living in town might not stand out in a crowd, and few if any would want to.
But thanks to these portraits, they'll be easy to spot when they proudly turn out for patriotic ceremonies and celebrations such as Memorial Day and the Fourth of July Parade. And, of course, Veterans Day.