Social Eyes by Faye Reeder

Eyes on Arlington: Portrait of military hero unveiled at Arlington High School

Alumni assocation members and local dignitaries at the unveiling of the portrait of Col. Neel E. Kearby, a 1928 graduate of Arlington High who received a Medal of Honor for heroics during World War II.
Alumni assocation members and local dignitaries at the unveiling of the portrait of Col. Neel E. Kearby, a 1928 graduate of Arlington High who received a Medal of Honor for heroics during World War II. Courtesy photo

One of Arlington High School’s most distinguished graduates was honored last month in a portrait-unveiling ceremony at the school, 818 W. Park Row Drive. The portrait of Medal of Honor recipient Col. Neel E. Kearby, a 1928 graduate, now hangs in the hall of his alma mater where students and visitors can read a short biography and his Medal of Honor citation alongside his portrait.

The portrait was a gift from the school’s alumni group.

“The Arlington High School Alumni Association is privileged to honor the past by presenting this display in memory of Col. Neel Kearby for current and future Arlington Colts,” said Cathy Brown, president. “We are grateful to our members for providing the support for this noble project.”

The school color guard opened the ceremony, where around 25 guests were present, with the presentation of colors and Pledge of Allegiance. Principal Shahveer Dhalla spoke about Col. Kearby’s bravery and honors during World War II.

According to the Texas State Historical Association, “Colonel Kearby is remembered as one of America’s most acclaimed fighter pilots. In addition to the Medal of Honor, he received five Air Medals, four Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Silver Stars, and the Purple Heart. Within a few months of his death, The Dallas Morning News hailed Kearby as ‘one of Texas immortals’, and Time magazine described him as ‘one of the great U.S. fighter pilots of World War II.’” Kearby was killed in action after destroying an enemy bomber near New Guinea on March 5, 1944.

A state historical marker and a life-size statue of the fallen hero were unveiled on the grounds of the public library in downtown Arlington in 2010 as a gift from the Arlington Historical Society. When the new library is complete, the monument will be moved to the site.

Linh Nguyen, Arlington school district curriculum coordinator for art; Richard Aghamalian, Class of 1965; Geraldine Nash Mills, Class of 1959 and director of the Arlington Historical Society; and Paul Swartz, Class of 1959 were instrumental in the project’s completion.

“Col. Kearby will be an inspiration to many future generations of Colts,” said alumni association member DeeDee Winter.

Learn more about the association at www.ahscolts-alumni.org.

Public art project call to artists

Local artists who want to be a part of Arlington’s new public art project have until June 30 to apply to participate in the exciting new artistic concept.

The project — called The Star of Texas — will feature 20 fabricated fiberglass stars positioned throughout the entertainment district and the downtown area.

“The sculptures will be individual pieces of art, celebrating the city’s new brand, Arlington: The American Dream City,” said Chris Hightower, executive director of Arlington Museum of Art, in the heart of downtown.

The stars will be painted by Texas artists chosen by a selection committee after judging the artist’s interpretation of the city’s most recently announced slogan.

Funded in part by the museum, the nonprofit group Women Inspiring Philanthropy and Arlington Tomorrow Foundation, the project aims to beautify the city and attract tourists seeking a cultural experience. Exposure for the artists’ work and giving residents a boost in art appreciation are other goals.

Artists chosen will be encouraged to decorate the stars by painting, sculpting or applying mirrors or mosaic tiles and even creating appendages or costumes for the structure, which will be mounted on a base. Sponsors for the project are welcomed, and the base will identify the donors.

According to the museum website, “The importance of presenting the creative depth of Texas artists is emphasized. Artists should consider and promote the new brand.”

Similar projects in cities across the country have created dialogue about art and are a source of local pride.

To learn more about The Star of Texas project, visit www.TheStarofTexas.org or call the museum at 817-275-4600.

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