The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.
Standing on what too long we bore
With shoulders bent and downcast eyes,
We may discern–unseen before–
A path to higher destinies.
Nor deem the irrevocable Past,
As wholly wasted, wholly vain,
If, rising on its wrecks, at last
To something nobler we attain.
These are the last few sentences of a Longfellow poem entitled The Ladder of St. Augustine. They have always reminded me of the many soldiers in conflicts past who have answered the call of duty and paid the dearest price for our freedoms.
This is an acrylic underpainting I’ve begun for a portrait of a 101st Airborne infantryman in World War II. I plan to finish the painting in transparent oil glazes. I will post the results as the work progresses. The contributions of the 101st are legend and a perfect illustration of the spirit the poem speaks of.