|Author Grist with Ashley Lauren|
After my return from overseas, his then fourteen-year-old daughter, Ashley, contacted me periodically with questions about the military. She and her family have been ardent supporters of American troops.
Little did I know that Ashley, who has since become the well-known artist Ashley Lauren, had created a painting of me based on a letter I had written to President Bush that was published in the Orlando Sentinel. That letter had been in response to a critical letter to the president.
Ashley's painting "Dear Mr. President" depicts me in Vietnam as well as Iraq. The reflection from behind the Vietnam wall is me as a young lieutenant. Touching the wall with the letter is me as an old sergeant in Iraq.
I had not known about the painting which apparently was completed four years ago. When Doug, Ashley, and the rest of their family came to Orlando on vacation, my wife Debbie and I met them for dinner. I was flabbergasted when Ashley presented me with the painting.
Needless to say, receiving such an extraordinary gift was a humbling experience. To receive it personally from its gifted artist gave this old soldier a lump in his throat. It is indeed an honor to have such friends. I shall be forever grateful.
I hope you will visit Ashleys website at http://www.ashleylaurendesigns.com/. Her paintings are breathtaking.
Charles M. Grist