Painting exhibit devoted to memory of ‘Bear’ Stewart, others visits BHS

Published 5:14 am Friday, November 10, 2017

“They had no fear at all, and all their families will love them forever,” said Sandra Stewart, fallen Marine Cpl. David “Bear” Stewart’s mother, at the “Eyes of Freedom” tribute at the Bogalusa High School auditorium on Friday afternoon.

Eyes of Freedom is a traveling collection of paintings memorializing Stewart’s son and 22 other fallen soldiers of Ohio-based Lima Company 3/25, to which “Bear’s” Alpha Fourth Amphibious Assault Battalion out of Gulfport, Miss., had been attached.

“I’m just grateful and proud of my city,” Stewart said.

She credited Sarah Billings, Theresa Glen and BHS Jr. ROTC coordinator First Sgt. Jack Rogers with securing the memorial for Bogalusa.

Mike Strahle, director of Eyes of Freedom, who served among the men honored in the 23 life-sized portraits of the fallen, wrote, “We are very excited to bring this powerful tribute to Bogalusa High School, alma mater of fallen Marine Corporal ‘Bear’ Stewart, whose image proudly travels with Eyes of Freedom. We are honored to spend this Veterans Day with the friends, family and fellow Marines of Bear Stewart, it has been a long time coming.”

During the program, Strahle explained that the portrait picture of the fallen from Gulfport was done two years later than the originals.

“Now, we’ve been to many of their homes,” he said. “We’re pleased to bring ‘Bear’ back to Bogalusa High School.”

Bogalusa Mayor Wendy Perrette was the guest speaker for BHS’s Veterans Day ceremony.

“When Francis Scott Key wrote the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ almost 200 years ago, he called America, ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave,’” she said. “Those words are as true today as they were then.”

The Eyes of Freedom exhibit will remain open for public viewing Saturday, Nov. 11, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Sunday, Nov. 12, from noon to 6 p.m.