Philip H. Parker VFW Post 2438 and Auxiliary held a dedication event followed by a reception in recognition of the new Memorial Eagle Mural on Monday, July 29 at the post home.
The mural, first proposed by Donna Younger, a lifetime member of the post Auxiliary since 2016, coordinated the design along with VFW Senior Vice Commander Ken Thames.
“Three years ago in 2016, Donna Younger started the idea of using a portion of our North wall for a Welcome to Bay City sign and the idea fired up, the post voted to approve it and then it just sort of dwindled down,” said Thames.
“Then in January of this year Donna again ignited the dream and through her perseverance and effort it came to fruition in May,” said Thames.
Their efforts came to fruition on May 13, 2019 when members of the Art League of Bay City, local accomplished artists Raleigh Conklin and Gregg S. Chitwood began the initial painting.
The 15-foot-tall by 40-foot-wide mural was completed on June 18, 2019, with all aspects of the completed painting having been done entirely by hand.
At the mural’s completion, the eagle, from wing tip to wing tip, spans 31 feet wide.
The detailed mural includes hand-cut wooden VFW sign letters, painted and sealed by Chitwood to match the new VFW logo as closely as possible.
The mural also includes two three-dimensional stars at the top corners, one representing Blue Star military families and the other representing Gold Star military families.
At the center, the Bald Eagle, which represents the VFW’s National Emblem, he carries the United States and Texas flags under each wing and under his talons which represent strength, the VFW’s National Motto.
The Bald Eagle’s eyes represent resolve.
Another unique detail included in the mural’s imagery, a Bald Eagle only has 12 tail feathers, however the post requested 13 be included in the mural to represent the original 13 colonies.
Directly beneath the Bald Eagle are five military seals and the POW/MIA seal, all hand painted in fine detail by Raleigh Conklin.
“We want to thank Bobby Head for the scaffolding, the electric lift, lumber and general all around help he provided while the mural was being worked on.”
“Through the Bay City Art League two very talented young men took the final drafts of the drawings that were on paper and they transformed them into a beautiful work of art, not only for the City of Bay City, but also for our VFW Post and Auxiliary.”
“Two young men who very professionally accepted requested changes and recommendations along the way as the painting began to take shape.”
“I have grown to greatly admire not only for their exceptional artistic talents, but also for their love of this country, Raleigh Conklin and Gregg Chitwood,” said Thames.
The mural serves as both a “Welcome to Bay City” sign and a VFW post sign sponsored by Visit Bay City, the local Tourism Department of the City of Bay City and the Bay City Art League.