Keep Me True

Shelby LeBlanc 36” x 48” • Acrylic and Paper Mixed Media

Shelby LeBlanc
36” x 48” • Acrylic and Paper Mixed Media

When you first see this painting its easy to think it just represents American patriotism and freedom… But “Keep Me True” is meant to pay homage to the life of Lee McClay. It is made up strips of photographs, maps, and interview transcripts from a man who was an eagle scout and marine and now lives in Wisconsin as a civilian. The eagle represents his life before his service as an eagle scout and his time as a marine. The paper media was deconstructed to depict how memories change over time as they get distorted, opinions of those events alter as we age or as time passes, or they are simply forgotten. However, all these memories and experiences shape us as individuals when they are pieced together.

Keep Me True also highlights how certain aspects of our past alter the way we see ourselves and how others see us in the world. They become more prominent, they can open doors and close others, but they seem to shape the direction life goes moving forward. I wanted this painting to represent his life outside of his service as well which is why I chose to paint the blue background; it was one of his and his wife’s wedding colors.

Inspired by the experiences of Lee McClary

Flying Sardines and the Glowstick Man.
by Shawn Dickens

“I have never stopped so fast in a plane in my life, if we weren’t surrounded by all the packs and crammed in so tight someone would have went flying.”
– Lee McCleary

The night of deployment we boarded the flight,
just me and my brothers in the cool, dark of night.
We shuffled and groaned as we boarded the plane,
while the flight crew gazed awkwardly at our human train.
With backpacks, and flacks, and daypacks in hand,
we filled in the seats like sardines, freshly canned.
“Get closer! Get tighter!”, the loadmaster said,
as the sounds of prop engines roared in my head.

When the ramp finally closed, we roared off into the night,
destined for far desert sands to fight the good fight.
It seemed only a moment that I had closed tight my eyes,
when the plane bucked and rolled much to my surprise.
Soon we were landed, and taxied, and the ramp slowly lowered.
That’s when I saw him, and his soft glowing light,
the man with the glowstick who emerged from the night.

His face did elude me, he features not retained,
but the glow of his chem-stick is etched in my brain.
I never got his name before he ran off into the night,
and vanished in the blowing sand, bathed in soft green light.