By Caroline GotlerMay 22, 2009
Lillian Harris loves to create art, and now her talent and passion have been recognized nationally.
Harris, a fourth-grader at Stowers Elementary School, won second place in the Army category of the Armed Services YMCA annual art contest. The contest is open to children of military families in first through 12th grades and receives thousands of entries each year. To participate, children must draw a picture illustrating their military family.
A first and second place winner is chosen from each branch of service, and all winning artwork is featured on the ASYMCA Web site and on a poster for Military Family Month that is distributed to members of Congress and Department of Defense officials. As a second place winner, Harris won a $100 U.S. savings bond.
"I wanted to enter the contest because I thought it would be fun, and it would be really cool if I won," Harris said.
Harris' winning drawing features herself riding in a tank with her sister, Madison, a sixth-grader at Faith Middle School, and her mother, Brandy. Above the tank, Nico, the family's Siberian husky, and Harris' father, SGT Joseph Harris, 4th Ranger Training Battalion, parachute from the sky below the words "Army strong." Harris drew the picture during art class, and hers was one of about 15 drawings her art teacher, Sharon Del Gobbo, chose to submit for the contest.
"I told the students to draw something that would make the judges stop and look, and she really took that to heart," Del Gobbo said. "She thinks of things a little bit differently than other kids her age. Instead of just having her family parachute out of a plane, she also had her dog parachuting. She made it more interesting for the people looking at it."
Harris said the contest was an opportunity to share her pride in her family with the rest of the country.
"My favorite thing is to draw about my feelings," she said. "And when I was drawing (the picture), my feelings were how perfect I wanted my family to be, because that's how they are."
Harris said she is proud of her father's service.
"He helps other people have a free country," she said.
Joseph said his daughter has always been patriotic, and has shown increasing interest in understanding the military.
"Lately, she's been taking more of an interest in how the Army works," he said. "If I'm watching the History Channel, she'll sit down with me and ask questions like, 'How do you get to be a general''"
In the long term, Harris said she hopes to study art in college, and perhaps one day become a professional artist.
"I can definitely see her continuing to create art," Del Gobbo said. "She's very organized in her drawing, and she really thinks a lot about what she's doing. She usually extends beyond the instructions I give on a project and carries it out further than I had outlined. She enjoys it very much."
In the meantime, Harris said she would continue creating artwork and spending time outdoors hiking and enjoying nature, another one of her favorite hobbies.