Veterans seek artist for war memorials
BRANDON -- The man responsible for creating artist's renderings for the county's first two war memorials in Veterans Park is deploying to Afghanistan soon, leaving the job open.
Local veterans, anxious to get going on the remaining six memorials, are looking for a volunteer to take his place.
"Qualifications are kind of up in the air," said Bob Silmser, a veteran who spearheaded the Vietnam memorial committee and is now serving as co-chairman of the Veterans Memorial Museum and Park Committee.
"We need an artist or illustrator to do the design concepts," he said. "They don't need to come up with materials but need to do some research on the wars and take input from local veterans on any of the committees."
Using that research and input, the artist would create the look for the memorials planned for Veterans Park on U.S. 301, near the Tampa Bypass Canal. The Vietnam memorial was dedicated last year; the planned Iraq memorial committee is still in the conceptual phase, and supporters are still raising money to build it.
Tim Lawn, the senior enlisted supervisor for public affairs with the U.S. Army Reserve's 143rd Transportation Command out of Orlando, expects to deploy in June and is busy getting ready.
"This memorial project has meant the world to me," Lawn said. "I did the original (artist's rendering) for Vietnam, but didn't know I was going to do a mural, too."
Lawn ended up designing a mural that is on the opposite side of a granite slab from the names of all those from Hillsborough County who died during active duty in Vietnam. The mural includes scenes that feature all branches of the military.
"I have spent almost my entire life in the military," Lawn said. "I joined the Army when I had just turned 17 and am 47 now and have been in the military all that time in one form or the other."
"It's always been part of my life."
Being able to create the artist's renderings for the war memorials has been a labor of love, he said.
"If I was not deploying, I would be doing every one of them," Lawn said. "When I pass on someday, those will be there long after I'm gone and my kids and their kids can go there and say 'My dad did that.'"
The next two memorials likely will be those for World War II and Korea, Silmser said.
"We need someone to step up as soon as possible so we can begin getting pricing and so forth," Silmser said.