WW II mural dedicated at courthouse

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Operation Dragoon, a painted mural completed in 1951 by well-known artist Eugene Savage, was dedicated during a ceremony at the county courthouse, where it will be on display for the next six months

The mural's dedication was attended by members of the Commissioners Court, Gene Crawford, Savage's grandson, Jon Bender, the mural's owner, Mark Witham, founder of the Military Heritage Collection of North Texas, a museum in Nevada, Texas, which displayed the mural prior to arranging for it to come to the courthouse, and members of the public and media.

Jon gave a brief background of the mural and the artist:

The 5 ft. x 14 ft. mural is a study for a much larger mosaic installed in the American cemetery chapel at Epinal, France. The cemetery contains the graves of 5,254 U.S. soldiers, most of whom died in the WWII campaigns across northeastern France and into Germany. The mural was commissioned by the American Battle Monuments Commission, and represents the invasion of southern France through the final victory. Savage created the work with information supplied by the commission.

Eugene Savage completed many commissions as part of the Works Project Administration (WPA). He went on to complete many paintings, bronzes and murals all over the United States. In Texas he is best known for his murals in the Texas Hall of State at Dallas' Fair Park.

Gene, an Army helicopter pilot in Vietnam, remembered many hours spent with his grandfather, who always wore a shirt and tie, even when painting or firing the colored glass for the Epinal mosaic (given the shortage of glass tiles, mostly made in Italy, after the war, Savage developed a way of using common materials like brick for the oven and bottles and other scrap glass to make his own tiles, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, for the mosaic mural). Gene spoke while standing next to a portrait of himself painted by his grandfather before Gene left to fight in Vietnam.

This magnificent mural is on temporary loan through the generosity of Jon Bender and thanks to the efforts of Mark Witham of the Military Heritage Collection of North Texas (museum's Facebook page here).