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In August of 1997, I was commissioned to paint a mural honoring our veterans on a wall of the VFW Post in Wallingford, Connecticut. Having never painted a mural before, I was very interested in the challenge of working on such a large scale. The mural would measure 20' wide by 6' tall and would be painted in acrylics directly on the wall. I didn't know what I was getting myself into.

The research alone took nine months to complete. The scope of the project included WWI, WWII, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War and the Liberation of Kuwait. My design depicted scenes from each war in chronological order from left to right, beginning with a portrait of the Post's namesake, Major Raoul Lufbery, the WWI fighter ace who had lived in Wallingford.

I looked for a theme for the painting, and I decided to portray the fact that although the machines and equipment changed through the years, it was always the troops on the ground that made the difference. Of course my father, Major Andrew Yelenak, who served in the infantry in WWII, may have influenced that artistic decision. He appears in the painting in a Pacific beach landing. I also included the portrait of my uncle, Joseph Lazarski, who died in battle at Anzio Beach.

Since I was painting just the wars of the 20th century, I chose to paint dawn at the opening of the century on the left and on the right, dusk closing the century. I tried to include medals, patches, planes and vehicles that members of the Post would be associated with. As one veteran said, the painting has become a family portrait for all veterans.

I never expected my commitment to this project to turn into an eight year hitch, but I have never been more proud or more satisfied by any painting I've ever done. I hope all our veterans will find themselves represented here.

Andy Yelenak
August 14, 2005

The mural is located at VFW Post 591, 23 Prince Street, Wallingford CT 06492
VFW Post Email: vfw591@ymail.com

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