Finding hope when you’re standing amidst devastation is never easy. It takes quite a while before you can lift your spirits, let alone that of others. But when Hurricane Michael ravaged Panama City, one man decided to do something that would bring a sense of positivity, pride, and love to his community.
Sonny Brewer, a Vietnam veteran, has faced challenges of his own and knows exactly what it takes to sacrifice for one’s country.
As he was wondering what to do, he came across a tree that was damaged badly by the hurricane near his house and had no hope of sprouting again. This is when he stumbled upon the idea of turning it into a piece of art, a symbol that would be remembered for years to come.
Oak tree before:Bald Eagle and American Flag stump sculpture carved from an oak tree lost due to Hurricane Michael.www.chadgaineysculpture.com
So, he then chose the American eagle and the national flag, and hired Chad Gainey, a local sculptor who would turn his vision into a reality. Brewer told WMBB, “It’s a symbol of courage, integrity, can-do attitude, will-do attitude.”
With this, his idea was to remind those who were struggling amidst all the hardship that there is still hope.
Friends, neighbors, and strangers stopped by and admired this beautiful creation.
“It’s kind of inspiring. [It’s] something to do with a really old tree instead of just wasting it,” a boy walking by said.
Another veteran said, “I fought for this country. I have friends under that flag. That flag means a lot to me.”
“The way this community has been devastated, this means so much to me. The feeling you have is just indescribable,” a veteran said.
Artist Gainey said, “You can look back and say wow I started with a dead tree and now it’s a piece of art.”
Before and AfterBald Eagle and American Flag stump sculpture carved from an oak tree lost due to Hurricane Michael.www.chadgaineysculpture.com
Sonny’s act of patriotism and commitment has left everyone equally impressed. At an intersection in Panama City, Florida, the tree now stands proudly where people can admire it every day. It is not just a symbol that honors all those who’ve given their lives to the country but a sign of hope for the community that everything will eventually be okay.
Bald Eagle and American Flag stump sculpture carved from an oak tree lost due to Hurricane Michael.www.chadgaineysculpture.com