Pete Damon, who lost parts of both his arms while serv­ing in the Iraq War, is the artist who cre­at­ed this year’s Vet­er­ans Day Doo­dle for Google.

Jen­nifer Damon via Google

Mon­day is Vet­er­ans Day in the Unit­ed States, the day when Amer­i­cans pause to hon­or and give thanks to those who have served in the US mil­i­tary.

Google tra­di­tion­al­ly turns the focus of its Doo­dle each Nov. 11 to hon­or the con­tri­bu­tions of those brave men and women, many of whom suf­fered life-alter­ing injuries — both phys­i­cal and emo­tion­al. Pete Damon, the artist who cre­at­ed this year’s Doo­dle, is an Army vet­er­an severe­ly injured in the ser­vice of his coun­try who car­ries the reminder of that sac­ri­fice with him every day.

Damon lost parts of both his arms in 2003 while serv­ing as a heli­copter mechan­ic dur­ing the Iraq War. For Damon, art was a form of ther­a­py that mor­phed into a career.

For almost as long as Google has been around, it’s livened up its bare­bones search page with art­work that draws atten­tion to notable peo­ple, events, hol­i­days and anniver­saries. Google Doo­dles have cel­e­brat­ed, among many oth­er things, Pac-Man’s anniver­sary, Coper­ni­cus’ birth­day, Moth­er’s Day and the World Cup, as well as remind­ing us of less­er-known real-world heroes.

Pete Damon’s Pay­ing Trib­ute high­lights the impor­tance of hon­or­ing those who served in the US armed forces.

Pete Damon via Google

Damon’s oil paint­ing on can­vas, titled Pay­ing Trib­ute, fea­tures two chil­dren wear­ing cam­ou­flage and a sailor’s cap and plant­i­ng Amer­i­can flags. For Damon, this is a famil­iar image.

“I’ve been paint­ing scenes of chil­dren plant­i­ng flags for some time now,” the Mass­a­chu­setts-based artist wrote in a blog post describ­ing how he drew inspi­ra­tion from pho­tos his wife took dur­ing out­ings with their son’s scout troop dur­ing flag plant­i­ngs.

“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,” Damon wrote.

“I found the scene of those chil­dren hon­or­ing vet­er­ans to be very mov­ing and pro­found.”

While Damon was hon­ored to be asked to be part of the project, he admits to being a bit appre­hen­sive about whether he was up to the task. But he was deter­mined to give it his best because of his per­son­al con­nec­tion to the sub­ject.

“With this piece, I hope peo­ple will real­ize and appre­ci­ate the per­son­al sac­ri­fice that all who serve in the mil­i­tary endure secur­ing the lib­er­ty of all Amer­i­cans,” he said. “I par­tic­u­lar­ly hope that peo­ple will rec­og­nize the impor­tance of teach­ing chil­dren to hon­or their ser­vice.”

Our favorite Google Doo­dles through the years 49 Pho­tos Google Doo­dle Mil­i­tary Google Noti­fi­ca­tion on Noti­fi­ca­tion off Online

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