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Michael Reagan is not an overly-religious man, but he is very spiritual, and he believes in his heart that when he draws a portrait, the soldier’s spirit sits with him in his studio and helps him do the work, helps him get it right. I believe him on that. I have known for a long time that there are things that are possible that we can’t begin to understand. I believe that, for lack of a better term, Mike lives his life in a very special state of grace that takes him to a level that few people even realize exists. I think he lives partially in the intangible and partially in the “real world”.
As I told him, the Navajo call it the hollow bone, the idea that a person can act as a conduit for knowledge, memory, or consciousness, to cross over from another dimension to this one. I told him that my spiritual teacher says “Death is just a change of form”, and he agreed. He believes as I do, that the person doesn’t leave, and that they’re right there with us still, but intangible to the five senses.
He has unlimited love and respect for the soldiers he draws, and he feels very deeply the tragedy of their loss and the depth of emotion that surrounds his work. He has such compassion for the families with whom he deals every single day – being around him was quite an experience. I hope someday you get to meet him. He has a very healing presence, and as I said, a very deeply spiritual attitude toward life in general.
It was interesting to me that he first and foremost wanted to make sure I understood his belief that anything that is done for or about the fallen soldiers must be “pure”. By that, I mean he is very concerned that nobody use the deaths as leverage to promote their own political or religious agendas. I assured him that I am interested only in presenting Sam’s story as told in the words of those who knew and loved, and still love her. I told him that you and Maggie have seen the basic manuscript and have no problem with it, and I think he was reassured to hear that.
He’s really something else, Bob. He wants so much to get the message out to the families of the soldiers, to let them know he’s there and is willing to do the portraits, if the families can just somehow be told about his work. I told him that I certainly will include a page in Sam’s book about him, with his website listed.