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Marine In Saipan (Beyond Despair)

In late 2012, while watching the Ken Burns PBS Special “The War”, I was drawn in by the eyes of a Marine in one of the lead-in photographs introducing the show. The face showed a fierce and piercing glance. So much so that I knew this had to be my first tapestry subject.

What I found when I started researching the photograph was an even more sobering story, one that explained the perceived numbness I detected when I first saw that glance.  The image I saw on TV is only a small portion of a much larger photograph.  This young man with the serious eyes is a stretcher bearer, who with others is carrying the remains of a fallen Marine tagged for burial. Visible on the stretcher itself, under a heavy cloth cover, are the soles of a downturned pair of boots, a small white tag tied to a shoelace no doubt bearing his name, rank, serial number; important details that will get him to his final destination.  How must these Marines have felt given the task they were charged with of sending this fallen comrade home?

Though it took a bit of research, I was able to track down the photograph through the PBS website on “The War”. It is identified as a National Archives photograph from 1944 of Marines in Saipan (127-GR-113-83414). This series is well worth the investment in time, if you have a desire to learn more about WWII. Follow this LINK for more information.

Armed with the right photograph, my Mirrix Loom, the BeadTool4 software, needles, thread, and a few other necessities, I set about creating my first Thankful Generations tapestry. My first attempt I chose to do a "movie reel" effect with the image fading away and the caveat to "never forget". My second effort was completed in July 2021, and finally my most recent creation was completed in December 2023. The evolution of my bead weaving skills and expanded color palette is evident as you compare these tapestries.

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