A 14-year-old girl painted a mural spanning several walls in Marion, Illinois, that pays homage to Marines and first responders.
The idea for the mural began earlier this year when Chief Tim Barnett of the Marion Fire Department approached attorney Ronald Osman and his son Blane about putting a design on a building across the road from the fire station, the Southern Illinoisan reports. He suggested a tribute to firefighters, especially those who lost their lives during the September 11 terrorist attacks, would be appropriate.
Osman served as a Lieutenant in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam era and wanted to honor servicemembers he knew that gave their lives during the war.
“I did not go to Vietnam, but I had a lot of friends (who) did and people that I served with did,” Osman told the Southern Illinoisian. “Two in particular, one that was killed in Vietnam and the other is still (missing in action) in Vietnam. They’re fine young men and they deserve to be remembered.
The ideas to tribute first responders and fallen Vietnam Marines melded together. Osman collaborated with 14-year-old Maddie Deiters, who was tasked with painting the mural. Deiters hails from a long line of service members, according to the Southern Illinoisian. After a roughly seven-week effort, she and her family fashioned a mural that spanned several building walls and honored Marines, firefighters, police officers, and EMS personnel. An American eagle ties the first responder wall to the Marine wall.
“It means a lot to me personally,” Deiters told KFVS12. “Veterans have been through my family and generations, but I was very honored to paint this.”
Osman has plans to expand the mural in the coming year to include other branches of the U.S. Military. In September WFCN reported plans for the mural to span all four sides of the building.
“First responders, whether you’re a fireman, a paramedic, police officer, Army, Marine Corps, or the Navy, every day that they go to work on that job, there’s a real potential for harm. They all do it willingly,” Osman told the Southern Illinoisian.
“It’s really important to support those who risked their lives for us… I would gladly spend eight weeks of my life painting this for them because they risked their life for ours,” Deiters explained.