fallen heroes

Alex Yawor’s portraits of Jesse Thiry, Dean Opicka and Luke Zimmerman

The families of three Luxemburg-Casco soldiers who were killed in action were presented with portraits of their fallen family members Monday night.

The paintings of Jesse Thiry, Dean Opicka and Luke Zimmerman were presented to their loved ones during an American Legion meeting at Luxemburg Village Hall.

Jim Kitchen, commander of Legion Post 65 of the town of Rome, said the post has teamed with Pennsylvania artist Alex Yawor to present a lasting personal memorial of each soldier.

Kitchen and his fellow Legionnaire Paul Kahr have presented 10 Wisconsin families with a portrait by Yawor.

“I’m proud of the young men and women that gave their lives in service to their country,” Kitchen said. “They weren’t drafted; they volunteered. We must all remember that: They stepped forward, they don’t have to. And everyone should be remembering.”

fallen heroes ceremony

Paul Kahr reads a poem to the parents written by artist Alex Yawor.

Kahr said he first met Yawor after a young man from Post 65’s area, Ryan Larson, was memorialized by the 94-year-old artist.

“He’s a veteran of Iwo Jima – he saw the flag go up on Sirabachi – so the man’s a walking history book,” Kahr said. “His mind is as sharp as a razor and his hands are steady as a rock.”

Yawor frames the portraits himself and carefully packs them in special boxes, with a sticker that sats, “Portrait of a fallen American hero enclosed – please handle with care.” And the Postal Service does treat them carefully.

“I get those boxes and they’re in pristine condition, just like he dropped them off himself at my mailbox,” Kahr said.

Legionnaires and others gathered for the ceremony gave the fallen heroes a standing ovation.