GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - One of West Michigan's first war heroes killed in Iraq is being honored in an emotional painting at ArtPrize, raising awareness about active duty military families.
"The Weight of Time" is more than just tapestries and oil pastels. It's an art piece telling the story of those forced to say goodbye to a spouse and praying they come home safe from war. That's the story of Rick Herrema, a Special Forces Green Beret from Hudsonville, who never came home from Iraq.
"He went to Unity Christian High and went into the military before turning Special Forces after 911," said Herrema's mother, Mary. "He was the first soldier from West Michigan killed in action, shot after getting off a helicopter during his deployment in 2006, a head wound."
"The Weight of Time" is a dedication to Herrema's life and the valor he left behind. The piece has 18 separate tapestries depicting war time imagery with family values, an ever-tiring clash for military families. The artist, Angelina Woehr, knows the struggles of deployment. Her husband, Herrema's best friend, has been deployed six times.
"It's the uncertainty, the never knowing," said Woehr. "It's hard when you can't share life together."
Woehr and her husband are now dedicating their lives to building a resort center for military families in North Carolina called "Rick's Place." It's a place where Rick Herrema's values will live on forever. The Woehr's hope to preserve the sacred bond of marriage while their loved ones fight for freedom.
"This is not just about me but the thousands of others as a family who want to stay healthy," said Woehr.