Portraits in Courage: Bush paintings of veterans featured at DC's Kennedy Center

Michelle Dolge
October 10, 2019 - 9:36 am

photo credit: Bush Center

Portraits of post 9/11 war veterans—painted by President George W. Bush—are featured in the opening exhibit at the new Kennedy Center's REACH studio in Washington, D.C.

Bush was the president on 9/11, and he was the president who declared the "war on terror."  It was Bush who sent troops into harms way to Afghanistan and Iraq to fight that war, often returning broken, minus limbs.  Several years after retiring, Bush took up painting, something he'd never done before.  Seomwhere along the way, he had decided to paint portraits of the men and women he sent to war, as a way of honoring them.

“The Kennedy Center is proud to share these works—painted by a living president—that honor the men and women who defend our freedom to explore, celebrate, and create art," said Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter.

credit: Bush Center

The portraits were first presented in 2017, at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Texas, and released in a hardcover art book, Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors. Each portrait includes the veteran’s story of resilience, determination, and recovery, which inspired President Bush to honor their sacrifice through art. The exhibit offers a unique perspective: exploring veteran injuries—visible and invisible—through the perspective of a Commander in Chief who ordered them to war.

credit: Bush Center

Bush has spent much of his post-presidential years supporting military veterans and their families.  The Bush Center features The Military Service Initiative, which honors the service and sacrifice of all post-9/11 veterans transitioning to civilian life.

The exhibit, which runs October 7 to November 15, 2019, is free.  You can reserve tickets online here.

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