Sisters complete second mural at senior center
What started as a painting of a patriotic symbol has evolved into a wall of honor for Barry County's veterans and military personnel at the Cassville Senior Center. Sisters Margaret Jump and Vida Finch held a dedication ceremony for their second mural on Sept. 24.
"This all began with Linda (Parker, senior center administrator) wanting a flying flag," said Jump. "Three or four months later we completed this. It was only supposed to take three or four days."
The large mural represents the service of countless men and women during each war that the United States has participated in, from the Revolutionary War to the current Global War on Terrorism.
"We didn't have a master plan," said Jump. "We moved from one subject to another on a timeline. Vida painted a drummer boy and troops marching to represent the Revolutionary War."
An American Civil War scene depicts a freed slave with a band of Union soldiers and Confederate soldiers at Elkhorn Tavern during the Battle of Pea Ridge.
"All five branches of the military are covered, and most of the occupations are represented," said Jump.
The sisters used many local stories to personalize the mural, which includes a B-17 Flying Fortress. Richard "Sarge" Carney served as tail gunner on a similar aircraft during World War II.
"We painted it as close to Carney's as we could," said Jump. "We hope he is pleased with it."
The mural also includes a B-29 Super Fortress and a painting of the U.S.S. Missouri, which was the site of the surrender that ended World War II.
"We were told some humorous stories while we were painting the mural," said Jump. "(Cassville) Mayor Tracy Holle told us a story about Private Swofford in World War II.
"He dug a hole, and when he got down in it, he left his gun leaned up against the side with the barrel of the gun sticking up out of the hole," said Jump. "When they were bombed, he was buried in the hole and the only thing that saved his life was that gun. It let in enough air so he could breath, and he wiggled it and that's how they knew where he was."
Jump recalled one day when she and Finch were painting at the Senior Center and Sherry Blair approached the wall to inspect a portion of the mural with men jumping out of a helicopter.
"I asked her what she was looking for and she said she was looking for red hair," said Jump. "Sherry lost her brother, JT Sutton, in Vietnam on her 17th birthday."
The Korean war, which Finch's husband participated in, and the Gulf War, which Jump's husband served in, are also represented in the mural.
"We have a Huey Helicopter for Vietnam, which was known as a helicopter war," said Jump. "Helicopters were used for medivac and troop transport."
Other images included in the mural are the Prisoner of War and Missing in Action flag, the Statue of Liberty and the Navajo Code Talkers.
"There are many veterans here who we were not able to recognize on the wall," said Jump. "Many of you told us stories.
"When we started this, we did it as a way to give back to our community and veterans," said Jump. "We had no idea the rewards we would receive in doing it. We received praise and recognition every day, and we never wanted to stop."
Jump and Finch received a standing ovation from the large group of seniors and other community members who attended the dedication ceremony.
"We were really motivated by the veterans who come here," Jump said after the ceremony. "They would come up to us to tell us stories and say, 'I haven't told anybody this story' or 'I haven't shared this story for years.'
"I made a 41-mile round trip to the senior center to work on the mural each day," said Jump, "and I looked forward to it every day. Their praise and stories were amazing, and we got the chance to work together again."
A bulletin board will be placed near the mural at the Cassville Senior Center. Photos and information about local military heroes will be placed on the bulletin board to recognize current service men and women and veterans.
Jump and Finch designed the mural using images that they found in books, magazines and on the Internet.
"We tried to make the planes and ships as real as we could," said Jump. "We spent almost as much time researching at home as we spent here working."
The mural includes the inscription, "Our gift to all veterans, Margaret Jump and Vida Finch."