A painting depicting the 2007 dedication of the USS Oklahoma Memorial at Pearl Harbor was unveiled at the State Capitol on Wednesday. Sen. Jim Reynolds, who worked with the USS Oklahoma survivors to secure the permanent memorial, said this will forever commemorate not only the lives of the men lost on the ship named for this state, but also, the survivors who never gave up on their dream of creating a memorial for those who died on December 7, 1941.
“Their hope was to create this permanent memorial and see it dedicated in their lifetime—and because of their perseverance and loyalty to the 429 men who died that day, their vision became a reality,” Reynolds said. “Oklahomans donated their time and resources to help that happen, and now this historic event will forever be remembered in this painting.”
Of the 800 USS Oklahoma survivors, about 90 were still alive when the memorial was dedicated on December 7, 2007. Paul Goodyear and Ed Vezey were among those survivors who attended the ceremony and are depicted in the painting.
“It took us a long time to make this happen, but we succeeded, and I am very grateful to everyone here in Oklahoma who helped us make sure that those young men will not be forgotten,” said Goodyear, who traveled from his home in Arizona to attend the unveiling of the new painting.
The painting was the latest project of the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc., founded by former state senator and president of the organization, Charles Ford. The art was a gift of the Oklahoma Centennial Commission and the Battleship Oklahoma Memorial Commission, with Reynolds and his wife Diane as Senate sponsors.
The painting is the work of Oklahoma City artist Christopher Nick. A native Oklahoman, Nick received his formal art training at the Atelier LeSueuer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which trains artists in the tradition of the old masters. His paintings have been exhibited throughout the United States.
Vezey was very pleased with the painting and how well it captured the events of the memorial dedicationceremony.
“It was a very emotional event for all of us. We’d worked so long, but it wasn’t about the survivors or anyone else—it was always about the boys who never made it and their families,” said Vezey, who makes his home in Colorado. “I just want to thank everyone who helped make this happen.”