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thedrifter
05-22-08, 06:24 AM
fallen military members recalled in paintings
Thursday, May 22, 2008 3:19 AM
By Bill Mayr For The Columbus Dispatch

Tom DodgeDispatch

Anita Miller, who has worked on the Marine portraits for more than 2 1/2 years


at a glance

Unlike the Marine reservists who enlisted to become part of Lima Company, Anita Miller was drafted into service.

The artist -- whose The Lima Company Memorial: A Remembrance of Spirit & Choice will open Saturday in the Statehouse rotunda -- received a commission in a vision as she slept one night in October 2005.

"It was not really like a dream; it was more like a download," Miller said. "It came fully formed. I saw it in the rotunda (of the Statehouse). I saw eight life-size paintings."

Who gave Miller the vision?

"I think it was the men of Lima Company.

"I said, 'No, no, no, you've got the wrong girl.' "

The men, in fact, had found the right person.

Honoring 23 fallen members of Lima Company, a Marine Reserve unit from Columbus that deployed to Iraq in 2005, the project was more than 2 years in the making.

The eight paintings feature life-size portraits of 22 Marines and one Navy corpsman.

Information for each man will be displayed. Visitors can leave mementos.

Lima Company, based at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, draws Marine reservists from Ohio and beyond. The unit departed Columbus early in 2005 and served in Iraq during the spring and summer of that year.

When deployed, Lima was about 180 strong. Besides the 23 killed, more than two dozen were wounded. The unveiling will come days after the announcement that six members of Lima Company were returning to duty in Iraq.

Miller, 47, of Worthington, was saddened as she read news stories about the unit; she speculates that her concern made her more receptive to the vision.

She spent 2006 developing ideas and sketches.

Miller -- who makes liturgical art and paints landscapes, portraits and still lifes -- expanded her small studio in an old log cabin east of Westerville and quit her job. She started the paintings early in 2007 and finished them about a month ago.

The pleasing, straightforward portraits place men in small groups. No battle scenes are used; only one painting reflects the chaos of warfare, with fire and rubble suggested in the background.

Miller sought personality traits about the men by talking to family members and viewing photographs.

When she received a photo of Sgt. David Kenneth J. Kreuter of Cincinnati, she pressed it to her chest.

"I felt a wash of dedication," she said. "It's as if a thousand volts of dedication went through me."

Other dreams passed along instruction and information; one, Miller said, told her she wouldn't be alone in the project: About 50 people have lent a hand.

She "has done more to bridge the gap of grief between the fallen and their families than an entire room of mental-health professionals," said Master Sgt. Stephen Walter, a retired member of Lima Company who helped Miller.

"The families have worked with her extensively, and that has a very profound healing effect."

Her work is moving, said Carole Hoffman of Pataskala, mother of Sgt. Justin F. Hoffman, a fallen Marine.

"The paintings Anita has made of the guys are so realistic," Hoffman said. "That's because of her tenacity and the family's participation.

"The feeling of spirit that's there, of the guys' presence -- sometimes it's like the guys' eyes follow you around. It's just an awesome, awesome art experience."

Hoffman assisted in the creation of a remembrance book with photos, biographies and information about Lima Company.

The book will be sold in the Statehouse gift shop.

The cost to create the project was more than $200,000, Miller said, "with me not being paid, volunteering my 2 1/2 years."

Many in-kind donations have been made.

"I've invested $100,000 of my own money," she said. "Fortunately, my husband (Robert) has chosen to support me.

"I think behind each man (in the paintings) stands a thousand men. They are representative of all the

men and women who

have given their lives for our

country."

billmayr@mac.com
STATEHOUSE ROTUNDA, BROAD AND HIGH STREETS (614-752-9777, 1-888-644-6123, WWW.OHIO STATEHOUSE.ORG; WWW. LIMACOMPANYMEMORIAL.ORG)

"The feeling of spirit that's there, of the guys' presence -- . . . it's just an

awesome, awesome art experience."

Carole Hoffman mother of slain Marine
The Lima Company Memorial: A Remembrance of Spirit & Choice STATEHOUSE ROTUNDA, BROAD AND HIGH STREETS (614-752-9777, 1-888-644-6123, WWW.OHIO STATEHOUSE.ORG; WWW. LIMACOMPANYMEMORIAL.ORG) 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends Saturday through Nov. 11 free To see a slide show about , visit Dispatch. com/multimedia.

Ellie