Above: This is one of the 96 portraits Legionnaire Alexander Yawor has painted of fallen veterans.
Legionnaire Alexander Yawor, 93, paints portraits of fallen heroes from the War on Terrorism and gives them to their families for free.
Yawor, a Marine who served in World War II at Iwo Jima, said he started painting after he returned from the war.
"When I came home from service, I didn't leave the house for a whole year," he said. "I had a problem, and I didn't want to go outside. Finally, I went outside and I got a job. Then I started dating my so-called high-school sweetheart. I was in love with her, but I didn't think she knew I was around. We finally got married and I was still not myself, and so I decided to start a hobby. I decided on painting."
Now, Yawor is using that skill to help military families have catharsis.
From a photo that features the veteran's face at least 3-inches long, along with details from the family and a physical description, Yawor uses donated and discounted materials to forge likenesses of the young people for their parents. (Because of issues with his eyesight, the photos must be that large, he said.) He said while it varies, each portrait takes about a week to complete. Since he began this project four years ago, he's painted and shared 96.
"It was during Iraq and Afghanistan war, I was doing portraits and I was selling some. I felt that the reason I was put on Earth was to pain the portraits of our fallen heroes and give them to the parents, free of charge," he said. "When I paint, I talk to them, I shed tears and I ask myself why. . . why did they have to die?"
The families share a lot with him, too.
"A lot of the mothers, they send me beautiful beautiful letters, thanking me for doing this. What a lot of them say is they hang the picture up in their loved one's room, and every time they walk into that room and look at that picture, they feel like he was there," Yawor said.
If interested in having a portrait painted of a fallen hero, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.