This March Sargeant Lakeisha Bailey was on her second tour in Iraq when her truck overturned and she died from her injuries during the accident. Her life was recently honored at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta when her family received a portrait of their daughter.
Tony Bailey is a career military man. He says his daughter LaKeisha had dreams of joining the army at a very young age. “She was just excited about being in the military…growing up being a military brat, from the time she was old enough to talk and knew what a military truck was she always talked about trucks…Dad I want to drive a truck…I want to drive a truck…and that’s what she pursued…”
At a ceremony in a crowded auditorium at Oglethorpe University the family received a portrait of their daughter. It was painted by artist Kaziah Hancock.
“Would you like to come up and receive this…cuz I can’t wait." "... Even though we are still going through the healing process…myself after serving 25 years in the military…I can’t think of a more fitting tribute to my daughter…”
Tony Bailey The portrait is part of Project Compassion – a non profit group of volunteer artists who together with Hancock paint portraits of fallen soldiers as requested by their families. Hancock founded Project Compassion after hearing of the first death of a soldier from her home state of Utah. She says the process starts before she even picks up a brush…
“Well you know I start painting even before I start painting… and what that means is – I think of the name, put the photo up on the canvas, the blank canvas and then I start trying to tap into the soul…”
She may have succeeded. Tony Bailey says the portrait of his daughter captured one of her most memorable features… “Part of her personality was her smile…and that’s the first thing I looked for when they unveiled the portrait…I was looking to see did they capture her smile… She nailed it.”
The public unveiling of the portrait was also a revelation for Oglethorpe President Lawrence Schall. “Being sort of witness to the family seeing their daughter…it just brings home, I have four children, it just brings home to everyone the loss and the sacrifice they are making.”
Kaziah says over 2,500 portraits have been presented to families around the country. Hancock says she does not tire of the work she does...
“I don’t get tired because I’m too in love. But I have experienced a great deal of pain. And I got to tell you after oh I think I had been painting maybe for a few months… and all day long, every day after painting the soliders I would just be streaming with tears…”
Hancock plans to continue her mission to paint as many portraits of fallen soldiers as she can. The project is funded by donations alone. To find out more go to heropaintings.com