Columbia, SC (WLTX) - As families here at home remembered their fallen loved ones on Memorial Day, it's one Midlands woman's mission to bring them joy, one brush stroke at a time.
"He is so young and so handsome," said Karen Langley as she paints a portrait of a Marine who was killed in action. "Just a kind face and knowing that he died; it's tragic."
Since 2001 we've heard many stories of soldiers losing their lives on the battlefield.
"I just feel really sad, sad for the families that lost their children, I just couldn't even imagine losing those children. They are so young and sweet and you can't even imagine what they suffered through."
Three years ago Langley's friend lost a loved one overseas; she decided to paint a portrait of him to comfort the family.
That inspired her to do more as her gift to South Carolina families whose loved ones paid the ultimate sacrifice.
"I've done about 35 now and I will keep going as long as I need to keep painting them."
The portraits take up to 22 hours to paint. Langley has one rule, she never finds out the background of the soldier that she paints so she won't get too attached.
"If I had to know everything about them when I am painting them not much would get done. I would need tons of tissues and it would be awful."
A number of her portraits can be found at the Village Artists shop, inside the Village at Sandhill, and some can cost hundreds of dollars.
But these special paintings are something she would never accept money for; she says it's the least she can do for what these men who have sacrificed everything for her.
"Hopefully this is a good part that I can do, I just feel like it is helping them to heal and I just feel like it's an honor to be able to paint them and it hopefully brings them peace to be able to see their son or daughter every day."