WW II veteran and artist create exhibit at Arlington Cemetery - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

WW II veteran and artist create exhibit at Arlington National Cemetery

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ARLINGTON, Va. -

Chris Demarest is a portrait artist. Griffin B. Holland is a veteran of the Second World War.

Together, they helped to create a special exhibit at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.

"Everybody was involved in World War Two," says Holland, an 89-year-old Chevy Chase real estate broker who flew P-47 Thunderbolt fighter planes in the Pacific in 1944. "Everybody wanted to get in it. I had friends who couldn't get in because of eyes or whatever it might be and they were very disappointed."

On this Veteran's Day, Griff Holland's looking at an old photo album and one image in particular.

"I don't know what I was doing there," he says while looking at the photo. "I frankly don't remember when the photograph was taken."

Nevertheless, a friend of Holland's son - the artist Chris Demarest - saw that black and white photograph on display at his friend's house and turned it into a color portrait that inspired an exhibit of Demarest's work at Arlington National Cemetery.

The exhibit of our Greatest Generation at war is not just men and their flying machines, but factory workers and nurses as well.

"Somebody emailed me after I did a portrait of her mother," Demarest tells us. "She wrote to me: 'I'm crying. Because I'm seeing my mother for the first time as a 20-year-old. I knew her only from these black and white photographs that to me were just part of a photo album. Now, seeing her in color makes her real.' And that's been the reaction I've heard over and over."

Demarest's studio is right next to the exhibit. Among the 55 or so paintings is a portrait of his father - also a pilot during WWII.

"He was young," Demarest explains. "He was only 67 when he died. But he's now buried at Arlington."

Griff Holland says he's impressed with Demarest's portraits, including one of an Iraq War veteran and the artist's latest project: women of the First World War.


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