I AM: Proud--Honoring Uncle Jackie


 Deborah and Jim Meehanfine artists who submit their work regularly at Studio B Art Gallery, combined their talents in creating a piece to honor Jim's uncle who was killed in Germany at the end of World War II. Their work fits the studio's theme; sharing it this particular weekend that celebrates our nation's independence is doubly fitting. 

by Jim Meehan

Seventy-nine years ago, my uncle Jackie, my mother's younger brother, was killed fighting in Germany at the end of World War II. He had been drafted in 1944 and had been in Europe for about two months when he was killed in action in the assault on a small town called Ungerath. He had been in many such battles in the weeks leading up to his death as resistance stiffened when the Allies entered Germany itself.

A farmer's field in Margraten, Holland, was chosen as the site of a military cemetery and this became the permanent resting place for about 10,000 troops. The cemetery today is a beautiful and peaceful place with row-upon-row of crosses and Stars of David forming sweeping geometric patterns. It is maintained to the highest standards, and the individual graves have been cared for by generations of the local Dutch citizens who have volunteered to do so since the close of the war. There is still a waiting list of people who want to volunteer almost 80 years on.

The news of Jackie's death was of course devastating for my family. They said my grandmother never got over it. After my grandmother died, my grandfather visited the cemetery in the fifties; but after his death, Jackie became a picture in a silver frame on the sideboard in our dining room. My mother didn't like to talk about it but always kept the picture out.

In the early part of this century my older cousins paid a visit to the cemetery and put together a little book about Jackie and what had happened to him and where he rested. It was a revival of his memory and inspired Deb and me to visit Margraten ourselves. We found it to be a very emotional experience and gave me a new perspective on my long dead uncle.

Deb and I painted this picture as a tribute to him and used the material from my cousin's book as a resource. It was an inspiration for me but also very sad to find the young man that lay there. Rest in Peace, Jackie.

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