One artist is leaving his mark in downtown Amherst, painting murals honoring veterans. His latest artwork features 10 local soldiers who were killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“They all have their own look and feel to them,” said Mike Sekletar.
He’s turned the plain brick side of a building on Park Avenue in downtown Amherst into a beautiful work of art.
“They just kind of inspired me… to give back and just say thanks in this manner and this is the only way I really know how to do that,“ said Sekletar.
Sekletar is an independent artist. He never served himself, but his grandfather survived World War II and his father, John, fought in Vietnam.
“He does care about the veterans and he thinks he owes them a tribute and that’s how he repays it, with the artwork,” said John.
Mike painted his first work on the wall in 2011. It’s the famous image of the flag raising at Iwo Jima. In 2013 he honored Vietnam vets. Two years later he painted a tribute to the Korean War.
This year brings the most personal project yet: ten servicemen, all killed in the line of duty, all local.
For the past three weeks, Sekletar’s worked day and night on the fourth and final picture, finishing the mural with his friend Brian Goodwin. They’ve put their heart and soul into every detail.
“I never met any of them, but I could have easily been buddies with any one of the guys,” Mike said.
The work will be unveiled Saturday morning during Amherst’s annual Veterans Day Ceremony. Many of the mens' family and friends will be present.
“Ya know, you can say it all you want, but to put it on a wall is kind of meaningful,” Mike told us.
You can attend Amherst’s Annual Veterans Day Tribute Ceremony and Mural Dedication at 248 Park Avenue. It begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday November 11.