My work with creating the Worlds Largest Painting II: My military experience that influenced my work

In the first post I gave a general explanation on why I got involved with the Cactus Dome project. Here I would like to give a little further detail explanation on my work and how it fits with the project.

As I stated the ideas started after I left the military and started getting back into art. As a soldier I saw many things that not only influenced my art but my life in general. One thing that I came to realize during my time in the military is how fragile life is. While we all know that we can die at any time, seeing death and disaster gives you a different perspective on life. The biggest influence of this was my time at the World Trade Center. During the first two days I worked as security at the entrance for the on site morgue. We watched as people walked past us with body parts in buckets and bags on their way from the lines to the morgue. On the second and third day I was asked to work on the bucket brigade itself. We start at the rear of the line, passing in empty buckets and and passing out buckets full of rubble. When the person at the front of the line finds something they either bag it or put it in a bucket and take it to the morgue, making the person in the second place to move forward to the digger.

When it came to my turn I found something that became stamped in my mind, what appeared to be a small hand. After turning it in I went back to the line to pass the buckets. What I found interesting about the line is that there I was standing between FBI, ATF, FEMA, and other government agents and civilians, none of them talking about who was in charge but simply doing their part in the recovery.

Just when we started to get a good rhythm going there was a rumble and scream, looking over we could see the front of Tower 7 coming down. As people started to run out, my military training kicked in and I started directing them instead of running. As people ran past someone knocked me over causing me to hurt my neck and back. After a short hospital stay I was back at the World Trade Center giving out supplies to units and organization down there and filling in where needed.

The pain continued in my neck and back as my C5 was twisted and stuck. At the end of Oct. the unit was deployed to West Point Military Academy where we served as part of Home Land Security for Operation Enduring Freedom. While there I continued to have pain in the neck and back, than one day I woke up and had no feeling in the left side of my body and could not move my neck. I was transported to Walter Reed Medical Center where I had a discectomy between C5 and C6.

While I felt better I continued to have problems and could not do certain things. in 2003 when my unit was getting ready to deploy to Iraq the military doctor at the readiness center declared me unfit for deployment and stamped my paper work. When you are unfit for deployment the army lets you go. So just like that 14 years of service was over, I was out of the military trying to start my new life. Not sure in what direction I wanted to go.

I returned to school to finish my degree, and started working full time on my art…

More soon…

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