I'm a couple of days late with my Memorial Day posting. I think we should remember our dead every day, not just on the last weekend of May.
It's hard to forget what people went through in World War II when looking at the dynamic paintings of artist Tom Lea. During his time as a combat artist he painted images that sear themselves in our minds. These dramatic paintings were done to show the carnage of the fight for the island of Peleliu in September, 1944. A painting comes from the soul of an artist. Maybe that's why there were combat artists, to show us the soul of war.
The uniforms change, but the effects of war don't. Recently I read that 45% of our current veterans apply for some sort of disability.Lea's painting of a marine with the "thousand-yard stare" reminds us that no one who fought in any war punched a time clock at the end and went home without having their lives changed.
Lea went on to a successful career in art. I have some of the books he illustrated, including my favorite, Apache Gold and Yaqui Silver by J. Frank Dobie. Lea died in 2001 at age 93. There's more information on him at the Tom Lea Institute web site.
This article is from the June 11, 1945 issue of Life.
Copyright © 1945, 2012, Time-Life.