from the Artist about “The Matador Fallen”
“The Matador Fallen” original drawing was done
in 2005 using Prismacolor color pencils on a light blue mat
board. I am the artist, Marla Knapic- Derga, and the Stepmother
of Cpl. Dustin A. Derga, one of the Marines depicted. Dustin’s
portrait appears at the center bottom of the drawing.
I believe all those who die while defending the lives of others
have a special place in Heaven. Since we often think of Heaven
as being “among the clouds” I have depicted these
brave heroes as such. These men were also devoted Americans
and our flag is depicted to honor their American spirit. The
soldier’s cross represents their supreme sacrifice and
devotion to duty.
Within the drawing are the portraits of each Marine from Lima
Co., 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines who so valiantly gave his
life in the line of duty during Operation Matador in May of
2005. Each portrait was based on pictures my husband Bob and
I found on the Internet. Fellow Marines and family took many
of these pictures. I wish to thank all those whose pictures
I used to help create these portraits.
The two standing figures at the top of the drawing represent
Dustin Derga and Darlene Parks as imagined in a dream Darlene
had three weeks before Dustin was killed. Darlene lived in
Texas and was related through marriage to my sister Susan.
Darlene never knew of or met Dustin or us. Susan was told
of Darlene’s dream while visiting in Texas just before
Dustin was killed. While she was still out in Texas Susan
relayed this dream to Bob and me via telephone on May 11,
2005 just two days after Dustin was killed. I would like to
take a moment to tell you the content of and circumstances
surrounding that dream.
Three weeks before Dustin was killed Darlene told her daughter
of a disturbing dream she had. In the dream Darlene saw herself
dressed in white and standing all alone in a Heaven like place.
Then a Marine dressed in fatigues walked up behind her, took
her hand and they walked into Heaven together. She said she
looked at the Marine in her dream and said he seemed familiar
but she did not recognize him. Darlene did not know any Marines
nor did she have any indication that she might die soon when
she had this dream.
Yet, Darlene died one hour after Dustin did on May 8th, 2005.
Bob and I believe that the Marine in Darlene’s dream
was Dustin. We also believe that the fact that we were told
this dream so soon after Dustin’s death was an answer
to our earnest prayers to have complete assurance that Dustin
was indeed safe at home in Heaven.
Soon after hearing Darlene’s dream I began dreaming
of the images you see depicted in “The Matador Fallen”.
I feel God inspired this drawing. It was Him who gave me the
artistic talent and vision. It was Him who compelled me to
continue drawing through many days of tears and healing. Doing
this drawing was a way of working through my own personal
grief over the loss of Dustin.
However, as the weeks went by, and more and more people saw
the drawing we realized that it could also bring healing to
the families of these fallen heroes. Because of that Bob and
I have given each set of parents and the spouses of these
fallen heroes a signed limited edition print of “The
Matador Fallen” as a gift of appreciation for their
great sacrifice. We hope the image will bring them some comfort
and peace as it has done so for us. For anyone who is interested,
we also have images of the print out on www.reachamarine.com
In closing, I want to emphasis that God deserves all the glory
and praise for giving us such great assurance that Dustin
and all our heroes are safe at home in Heaven with Him living
face to face in glory. I also feel that the praise and glory
for the completion of this first drawing goes to Him as well.
As the earthly artist, I just obeyed His prompting and faithfully
showed up in my studio, pencil in hand with eyes and heart
open to His leading.
Thank you! God bless you and God bless America!
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