The National Guard Armory in McKenzie has a new door.
Well, it’s not technically a new door, but it definitely has a new look.
That’s because it was recently painted as a mural by art students from McKenzie High School.
Spending an hour to an hour and a half a day over a period of three weeks, the students, under the supervision of MHS art teacher Sarah Bradberry, turned the inside of the 16 x 14’ bay door into a beautiful symbol of patriotism and honor for the men and women who serve in our country’s military.
The red, white, and blue mural features an eagle’s head with Old Glory in the background and the words “HOME OF THE FREE” at the top and “BECAUSE OF THE BRAVE” at the bottom.
“I thought they did an amazing job,” said Bradberry. “It was a beautiful experience from beginning to end, and they really did showcase their talents.”
It all started with a little healthy creative competition.
McKenzie’s Guard Unit — the 190 th Engineer Company, 230 th Engineer Battalion, 194 th Engineer Brigade of the Tennessee National Guard — held an art contest for young local artists back in March, looking for a design that expresses both national patriotism and appreciation for military service.
In the final cut, three different designs by MHS students Mallory Cole, Sydney Allen, and Carolyn Varallo were chosen as winners and then integrated into a final design for the mural.
The door was chosen as an ideal canvass, and then the students got to work making that design into a larger-than-life reality.
Students who took part in the project included Sydney Allen, Holly Barker, Olivia Bowden, Hannah Boyd, Mallory Cole, Adam Cooper, Amber-Leigh Cooper, Kayla Craig, Chrestophar Cunningham, Austin Gierhart, Gia Hughes, Nicole Mercer, Billie Morgan, Matthew Nutting, Macey Ognibene, Bryce Phillips, Rusty Sawyers, Terry Swafford, Carolyn Varallo, Tyreec Warren, Audrie Washburn, Brandy Webb, and Karrington Williams.
The 75 members of the McKenzie Guard Unit gathered Friday afternoon at the armory with the participating students to show their appreciation for all the hard work and talent these students put into the project.
“Ya’ll did good,” said Sgt. First Class David Cawthon, who is the ranking officer over the unit. “This is awesome, and we thank you.”
“I just want to say what an honor it has been to do this for you,” said Bradberry.
According to Cawthon, the idea has caught on with other National Guard units across the state that are getting together with local school art programs to bring some color and beauty to Guard facilities across Tennessee.