Peter J. Damon, former Army Sergeant who lost both his arms while serving in the military in 2003, is the artist who created the Google Doodle featured Veterans Day, November 11, 2019. Damon was 28-years-old and working as an electrician when he decided to join the army, and enlisted enlisted in the Massachusetts National Guard in order to stay close to his family.
Damon volunteered to go on his first combat deployment to Iraq in September 2003. He was serving as a helicopter mechanic with the 126th Aviation Regiment when on October 21, 2003, he was inflating a tire on a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter at Camp Anaconda in Balad when a rim of the wheel blew apart. The explosion knocked Damon unconscious, and the next memory Damon has is waking up from his coma and discovering he had no arms.
During his 15 months recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center, he received a set of prosthetic arms and a set of hooks, although, and even though he was right handed, chose to wear only one hook, attached to his left elbow, because his right arm no longer had an elbow. Through art therapy, Damon taught himself how to use his hook prosthetic to pick up and use a pencil, which eventually blossomed into his future career as a professional artist.
Here’s what you need to know about Pete Damon…..
1. The Google Doodle Is Piece of Art Entitled ‘Paying Tribute’
Google chose to honor Veteran’s Day in 2019 by showcasing Damon’s oil painting on canvas, titled “Paying Tribute,” which features two children wearing camouflage and planting American flags. For Damon, this is a familiar image.
Damon, 46, described his inspiration for the piece on his blog. He wrote, “I’ve been painting scenes of children planting flags for some time now. I’ve witnessed children taking part in similar displays of patriotism on Veterans Day when large fields, usually in public spaces, are filled with a sea of little flags. I found the scene of those children honoring veterans to be very moving and profound.”
Personally, he wrote, “I can’t begin to tell you how honored I am to have been chosen to do this painting. I can only hope that my particular painting style does the day justice. My aim was to capture the hopes of all those who have served this great nation that their commitment and sacrifice to the cause of liberty will not be forsaken. Because make no mistake, each and every service member who dons the uniform and takes that solemn oath to defend the Constitution is indeed sacrificing a portion of their liberty, their safety, and in many cases their entire lives, so that others may live and prosper in freedom. ”
2. Damon Is Married With Two Children
Damon was married his wife Jennifer and had one daughter, Allura, who was three at the time of his deployment. The couple, who now share two children, they also have a son named Daniel, and live in Middleboro, Massachusetts. Together, they opened True Grit Art Gallery in 2015, where he displays his own artwork as well as other local artists.
After being featured on CBS News, sales of his artwork took off. His studio is located right upstairs from the gallery, and to view all of his available painting click here.
3. Damon Received the First New House From The Homes For Our Troops Foundation
While Damon was still a patient at Walter Reed Medical Center, he was approached by John Gonsalves, a Massachusetts construction worker who was just beginning a non-profit organization with the goal of building specially adapted custom homes for severely injured veterans, which soon became one of the nation’s top-rated military charities
Peter became the organization’s first home recipient in 2005, and on their official website, Pete thank Homes For Out Troops for giving him back his independence. In his new home, Damon was granted the ability to move about freely, without always having to rely on his wife or kids to do everyday tasks for him all the time.
4. Damon Came From A Working Class Background But Was Inspired By Those Who Found Solace In Art
Damon’s artwork has been on display all over the country, including at the US Capitol, and the White House. After returning home from Walter Reed, Damon moved from pencil sketches, and started working in pastels. On his website, Damon writes that his biggest artistic influences include Robert Henri, Edward Hopper, John Sloan, George Luks, and George Bellows.
But his biggest inspiration came from growing by others who found solace in art. He explained on his site”
“For most of my life I’ve had a strong creative urge. That creative strain is prevalent in my extended family. I have many artists and musicians —uncles, aunts, cousins and second cousins — in my family who have found richly rewarding paths in this respect, myself included among them. Coming from a working class background, it has always been an outlet to combat and curtail the tedium of the work week or the chaos that can seep into everyday existence. After suffering devastating injuries while serving in Iraq, I felt that urge more strongly than ever. There was an overwhelming instinct to fall back on that creativity in order to pick up the pieces and begin to rebuild my life. I now approach painting as an affirmation of Being. The process of observing simple, often overlooked moments of our everyday lives, and capturing that on canvas through my own personal artistic style has given me a profound sense of meaning and purpose.”
5. Damon Is a Die-Hard Boston Bruins Fans
In their family photos, Damon and his family regularly sporting gear from their favorite NHL team, the Boston Bruins. In his wife’s profile picture on Facebook, Jennifer, Pete, and their son are all rocking Bruins hats.