Dear Cindy,

“I’d rather feel the heat of August than be sheltered and numb.”

                                                             -Micheal Penn-

Dear Cindy,

I don’t know if you remember me but you and I had a short conversation after Anthony’s death. I am Elizabeth's sister. She requested that I send you a copy of a painting I took from Anthony's film. Just so you know, I am an artist and so I did change part of it. Possibly colors, and I also believe I changed the woman's clothing. She was originally wearing pants and I changed them into a skirt. Women wearing pants is a more recent fashion statement. The idea appealed to me that the viewer of the painting wouldn't know what war the painting was taken from. Let’s face it this scene continues to be played out over and over. Anthony and I talked about the photograph. He said he had snapped it as an American tank was passing by them. It must have frightened her terribly as she ended up cowering in the ditch and covering her children. Cindy, honestly all I was looking for when I requested photographs of Iraq from him was to paint a nice landscape, or a beautiful mosque. You can just imagine how shocked I was when I took the film home and viewed it. There's just one word for it.... powerful! He had a great dream and I was looking forward to knowing a famous filmmaker.

I also sent you a couple of other photos. One is of Anthony and Jeff as we were going out to dinner. The other was taken on July 4th at my home. As you will see Anthony was making it very clear how much he liked his burger. I'm so glad you went to Jeff's wedding, it was very important to him. I love the idea that you had of having a teddy bear made for them out of Anthony's shirt. Your son made quiet an impact on people in his short life. He is missed.

 

Hi Debra,

Yes, I do remember you calling me after Anthony died. Thank you again for your kind words. And thank you for sharing those photos and your painting. You are right that it is very powerful and unfortunately sad too. I can't imagine what must have been going through that poor woman's mind except "I need to protect my children". Something all of us Moms try to do.

It was such an honor for me to be there for Jeff at his wedding, I wouldn't have missed it for the world! And I had such a wonderful time in South Africa! Nicky's family welcomed me with open arms and hearts! I've never felt so comfortable in complete stranger's home before! And Nicky's Grandma Mildred is an amazing woman! She is so funny and loving and I would have loved to watch her interact with Anthony! I don't know if she would’ve let him leave!

Not a day goes by that I don't think of Anthony or his sister Samantha. I miss them both so very much. You were right when you said he touched so many lives. A friend got a tattoo of a raised fist with a film strip and Anthony's initials and dates of birth and death underneath; a former Army buddy and his wife didn't know they were having a baby when Anthony died and when they had the baby, they named him Mason Robert Anthony; and when the Iraq Veterans Against the War marched to the NATO summit in Chicago and threw back their medals in protest, the head of the Chicago chapter threw back his first medal in honor of Anthony. Anthony was active and worked for the Midwest Brain Injury Clubhouse in Chicago and a counselor who had been let go because of budget cuts had moved to Florida and had contacted me that because of the influence and inspiration of Anthony, she is getting the paperwork and funding to open a clubhouse for veterans in Florida! These are just a few of the heartwarming stories of people who have been inspired by Anthony in his too short of a life and I wanted to share them with you. If you have the opportunity to go to YouTube and watch the videos (there's 2) of a panel of veteran's talking about their experiences in war and although it's good to hear his voice, what Anthony went through was heartbreaking.

I am curious about something though….Anthony used to call me "Mama Dukes"….and I see your last name is Duke…any idea how this all got started?

Thanks again for sharing the photos and your painting, I've saved them to my computer.

Take care,

Cindy

 

 

 

 

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