Artist draws portraits of fallen heroes for ‘gold star' families


When a soldier doesn’t return home, sometimes all their families have left are memories and photographs. But one artist has been giving them new life. 

Artist and Vietnam veteran Michael Reagan creates hand-drawn portraits for the families of all service members lost in Iraq and Afghanistan -- free of charge.  It began with a single request in 2003, and since that time he has drawn more than 4,500 portraits through his nonprofit Fallen Heroes Project.

The 70-year-old tries to draw two portraits a day, and will spend over 10 hours on the job. He told, “I sit here for all those hours for nothing other than the fact that this human being died for me, and he didn’t know me.” He puts a lot of emotion into each drawing, and walks five and a half miles afterwards to heal. 

“I try to walk myself out of a broken heart,” he explained, “so the next day I can draw another one and break my heart all over again.” 

Sometimes it is a reproduction of a family’s favorite photo. Or in the case of fallen hero Michael Carey, a portrait with the daughter he never had the chance to meet. 

“There is a message this soldier is trying to send home to his family, and for some reason, I am the person who will send it home,” he added.


It allows their families to not just look at their face, but to look into it -- and have a little more of them come back home.

Up Next:

Up Next

  • Artist draws portraits of fallen heroes for ‘gold star' families
  • 7-year-old soccer fan donates prized Christian Pulisic jersey to help Hurricane Maria victims
  • Fridays and the number 13 have been feared for a long time
  • Breast cancer patients get support from survivors who have been there
  • Can you recognize the signs of opioid addiction?
  • Quebec barber goes extra mile for clients with autism
  • Babysitter saves twin toddlers from house fire
  • MANNA nourishes neighbors fighting for their lives
  • 9/11 survivor also survives Las Vegas shooting
  • Divorced Canadian couple gets court ruling on season hockey tickets