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Monday, May 30, 2011

“A Memorial Day Tribute” - Kevin

I started this Memorial Day weekend with a rather ambitious list of goals for myself. Attainment of the goals would have positioned me well in regards to the course assignments that I must complete. However, somehow I along the way I got sidetracked. To avoid self-blame, I can provide some rather decent excuses that of course can be attributed to a host of events besides my own procrastination. First was the fact that this was a holiday weekend. Somehow, I just could not psychologically put that fact behind me. It just seemed as though I should be doing absolutely nothing related to work or graduate school. Second was the weather. Rather than parking myself behind a desk and computer, I thought it would be a much better use of a beautiful Sunday if I spent it canoeing the Maury River (Spencer, you should have gone with us). And, yes I was right. Third, for whatever reason, my grass seems to never stop growing. So after awakening early Monday morning to the shearing pain of my charred flesh, I jumped on my mower and began the tedious tasks of mowing, weed eating, and raking. By eleven o’clock, I had had enough. Besides, I was not going to continue working while my wife and son made this year’s inaugural trip to the neighborhood pool. With the list of goals subconsciously looming over me, I did not accept their invitation to go with them and instead decided to work on the blogs that were inevitably awaiting my attention (in truth, I did not want to add to my already painful sunburn). Before sitting down to the computer, I thought it would be a good idea to catch up on some current events as that would perhaps provide that spark I needed to get going on the blogs. While Sponge Bob Square Pants may be a good source of information for a twelve year old, I could never really place a great deal of trust in a talking sponge. So while flipping through the channels, a story that the ladies of The View were covering in observance of Memorial Day caught my attention.

The ladies had as their guest’s two women. The first, Kaziah Hancock, is an artist and goat farmer from Utah. The second is the mother of a solider who had been killed in Afghanistan five months ago. Several years ago, after listening to a radio broadcast which interviewed the parents of a soldier who had been killed, Hancock decided she needed to do something to comfort them and show them her appreciation for their sacrifice. Being the artist that she is, Hancock painted a portrait of the soldier and provided it his parents as a gift. At the encouragement of friends, Hancock founded Project Compassion in 2003. Through Project Compassion, a 501(c)(3) organization, Hancock continues to show her appreciation to the parents and spouses of loved ones who have died serving actively in the military or as law enforcement officers. The mission of Project Compassion is to:

“Reach the family of every fallen American in uniform since September 11, 2001, for the sole purpose of giving them an opportunity to request an heirloom quality tribute to their hero.”

According to Project Compassion’s website,, as of November 1, 2010 Hancock and the other four Artists who contribute their services without compensation have completed 2550 portraits. During the interview, Hancock stated that she has painted over 800 portraits herself and will not stop until every fallen hero has been memorialized in this way. Wow, what a story and what a truly unselfish group of American Artists I thought to myself.

We have discussed that charitable organizations provide services the private and government sector fail to provide. While doing so, these organizations must abide by strict IRS regulations. Among the regulations are the purposes for which the exempt organizations can operate. Certainly, Project Compassion is an epitome of such organizations. One can only wonder what motivates persons, such as Kaziah Hancock and the other Artists, to provide such truly charitable services. I am certain that those that make up Project Compassion, the board members, volunteer artists, and donors, are not motivated by expectations of personal gains, acknowledgment, social status, or other rewards. The expense of materials required and the amount of time involved is astonishing. Why then? There must be some theoretical explanation. As much as it pains me, I must find some theoretical explanation to validate this blog.

The social exchange theory argues that benefits must outweigh the costs. This is the fundamentals of business and that of a cost benefit analysis. If the costs of a program outweigh the benefits of the program, then the program should not be initiated or it should be terminated. However, Empathy Altruism Theorists disagree. They posit that gains are not the only determinant of the willingness or motivation for someone to perform certain acts. Genuine feelings of unselfishness and the desire to help others without the expectation of gains are the defining claims of the empathy-altruism theory. As gleaned from the interview by the shaking voice and welt up eyes, by the holding of the mother’s hand, by the failure to center the attention on her, Kaziah emphatically displayed concern for the wellness of those who are remembering their fallen hero’s on this Memorial Day.

My wish is that one day the paint on Kaziah Hancock’s brushes dries up as there are no more portraits to paint.

Semper Fidelis.

1 comment:

  1. Damn fine Kevin. Every day is Memorial Day (or should be). Spencer