A Veteran’s Day Message

On Monday, August 23, 2021, which was three days before the suicide bombing at the Kabul airport that killed thirteen Service Members including two female Marines, I woke up worrying about one of the women featured in my Defending Democracy paintings (partial portrait above). Having deployed several times to Afghanistan, she routinely went into combat alongside Special Operations Forces. Knowing she suffers from PTSD, I feared that our extraction was making it even harder for her. I wanted to assure her that her service was not in vain. To process my concerns, I turned to art and wrote a poem. Once penned I realized it conveys the heart and soul of  Defending Democracy: Portraits of U.S. Military Women on Canvas and Film

She went to war for me.

She trained her body and her mind

She stood by ready to deploy, engage, destroy.

She went to war for me.

She pinned her hair in a bun

She trimmed her nails and polished her weapons

She wore my scepter on her sleeve.

She went to war for me.

She carried courage into combat

She carried comrades when they fell.


She went to war for me.

She left babies back home

She left fear in her locker

She left limbs on the battlefield

She left this world in a blast.


She went to war for me.

She gave all she had

She gave wholeheartedly

She fought knowing her life depended on it

She fought knowing mine did too.


She went to war for me.

She is a patriot of the highest order

She is Anna, Nora, Maria, Laura and Ashley

She is every woman who ever volunteered to protect me.


I am Democracy.

I am Freedom.

She is my hero.

“A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.” -Bob Dylan

On this Veteran’s Day, and on behalf of our team at Defending Democracy, I want to express our undying gratitude to all the women and men that sacrifice so much to protect our country and our liberty.