A local artist who made a national name for himself after Sept. 11, 2001 is honoring military members by releasing his latest piece on Memorial Day.
Rick Kelley unveiled "The Homecoming" this weekend, which portrays what our country has been through in the past decade.
"I started out with a soldier returning home," explained Kelley. "He sees the telephone pole and drawing his daughter made. It says, 'In God we trust. I love you, Dad.'"
Kelley told FOX 9 News the artwork is intended to honor the sacrifice of those who have served since 9/11 and before.
"It's about unconditional love -- about going beyond the call of duty," Kelley said. "I put in the bottom here in camouflage, 'Our freedom comes not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God' -- the words that followed that [were] 'ask not what your country can do for you.'"
Kelley captured a lot of detail in the painting -- including five jets in the missing man formation.
"I want the people who defend this country to know there are people out there that care," Kelley said.
To prove it, Kelley is offering a free print of any one of his works to any veteran. That special gesture cheered Roger Grommesch, who served in Korea.
"It's home to you -- to all the kids that are serving now and protecting us," he said. "Each one coming home with the same feeling -- glad to be home, and we're all glad to have them back home."
Kelley handed out more than 200 copies, moving many recipients to tears.
"It makes everything I do worthwhile," he said. "I'm doing something right."
Scott Listberger, who is currently with the Minnesota Air National Guard, told FOX 9 News he was moved by Kelley's latest painting.
"It just tells us that there are still people out there that care -- and they are supporting us," he said.
Kelley produced his most famous piece, "On Freedom's Wing" after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. His next goal is the Fallen Soldier Project, and he said he hopes to donate a piece of work to every family who has lost a loved one in Iraq or Afghanistan.
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