By Tina Ray/ParaglideJanuary 29, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Retired Staff Sgt. Paul Delacerda suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2005 while serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The injury gave him insight into the service of Soldiers and the sacrifices they make in combat, Delacerda said. He said it inspired him to fashion a Purple Heart tribute with 937 names of fallen Soldiers.
The tribute is a graphic using pictures from the Department of Defense Web site, Delacerda said. It contains images of Soldiers honoring their fallen comrades, a Soldier standing on a mountaintop beneath an Afghani sunset, a Marine carrying a fellow Marine, a bugler in a national cemetery, the American flag and other images.
Delacerda plans to make the artwork available to Family members at no cost.
"I will not be selling this artwork," he said. "I believe that making money off the death of these Soldiers, especially my friends and brothers and sisters-in-arms is not what I did this for."
He said Soldiers sacrificed their time and he wishes to do the same.
Delecerda first began working as an artist when he was 15-years-old growing up in Texas, he said. He primarily made a living painting murals for affluent clients."
At 21, Delecerda decided to join the Army as an infantryman and was assigned to the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment. Delecerda traveled extensively, having served in Italy, Bosnia, Kosovo and Africa, before retiring in June 2009.
Being able to return to work as an artist has been humbling, he said. He is working on two pieces to be displayed in Quantico Marine Hangar 1 and in a terminal at Andrews Air Force Base.
"It's pretty cool. I think it's very humbling that I'm going to have my artwork immortalized in a place like that," he said.
Retired Sgt. Maj. Marion White is familiar with Delacerda's artwork. White, who retired from Fort Bragg's 82nd Personnel Service Battalion in 2005 said Delacerda was his driver and recalls that the artist often designed artwork for the division headquarters, including T-shirts. White said he is not surprised to learn that Delacerda will give Families copies of the Purple Heart tribute print.
"I rank his generosity a nine on a scale of one to ten," said White. "When he worked for me, he was a good, caring guy."
Delacerda's tribute contains a quote about how sacrifices outlive people.
"It (the quote) depicts the whole design," he said. 'What we do for ourselves will die with us, but what we do for others will remain."
Families who are interested in obtaining a print from Delecerda may contact him via Facebook or by email at email@example.com.