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Watch now: New mural in Marion honors military heroes, police, firefighters and first responders

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A retired Marine veteran who lost people in the Vietnam war has partnered with descendants of a long line of military folks to produce a mural memorializing the military and first responders.


A new mural has gone up in Marion honoring those in the military and first responders. 

Paint splatters the sidewalks in Marion after two generations partnered together to honor those who risk their lives to public safety.

A retired Marine veteran who lost people in the Vietnam war has partnered with descendants of a long line of military folks to produce a mural memorializing the military and first responders.

“Whenever I got out of the Marine Corps in 1972 there was an entirely different attitude toward warriors then, toward the military,” attorney Ronald Osman said. “In fact, we were spit on, on occasion, and it's always bothered me. They deserve to be remembered. All of the first responders and the people that keep us safe day in and day out deserve to be remembered and deserve to be honored.”

Ronald Osman and his son, Blane Osman, were approached by Tim Barnett, the Marion Fire Department chief, earlier in the year about putting something on the building across from the fire station that honored the fireman.


A paint brush pictured Friday was left behind after the completion of the mural honoring first responders and those in the military. 

Especially those that died on 9/11. 

“It hit home, because a lot of the guys were working that day, and we sent some guys there,” Barnett said. “Four-hundred and fifteen emergency responders died that day, and 343 of those 415 were firefighters.”

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Ronald Osman, a former lieutenant in the Marine Corps, also wanted to do a project honoring those he lost in the Vietnam war. 


Maddie Deiters poses on Wednesday for a portrait in front of one of her favorite parts of the mural honoring first responders and those in the military.

“I did not go to Vietnam, but I had a lot of friends (who) did and people that I served with did,” Ronald Osman said. “Two in particular, one that was killed in Vietnam and the other is still (missing in action) in Vietnam. They’re fine young men and they deserve to be remembered.”

Ronald Osman said he and Sgt. David Haake had studied together at the University of Illinois from 1965 to 1968.

Captain Larry Fletcher Potts was shot down in the second OV-10 in the Easter Offensive of 1972, Ronald Osman said.

It was his 25th birthday the day he was shot down and went MIA, said Ronald Osman. 

They served two years together. Ronald Osman was Potts' commanding officer throughout numerous positions, and this caused them grow very close, Ronald Osman said.

The two ideas, born out of loss together, ultimately inspired the multipanel mural that spreads three building walls on North Court Street in Marion.

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The panels display Marines, firemen, police officers and EMS. However, in the next year, Ronald Osman hopes more branches of the military can be added to the remaining space, he said.


Marion Fire Chief Tim Barnett poses for a portrait in front of the new mural in Marion.

As time and perceptions of the military and first responders have changed, Ronald Osman hopes people will keep a positive view of the people in those roles.

“First responders, whether you're a fireman, a paramedic, police officer, Army,  Marine Corps, or the Navy, every day that they go to work on that job, there's a real potential for harm. They all do it willingly.”

Ronald Osman partnered with Maddie Deiters to make this mural possible.

Deiters, 14 of Marion, comes from a line of military members. Her father was in the National Guard and his father was a veteran, Deiters said. 


One side of the new mural honoring military and first responders is pictured in Marion.


While most of the piece came from artist Maddie Deiters’ mind, she used real images in the mural, colorizing different photos from the Vietnam war for the Marines panel. 

Having grown up in a military family, Deiters had a special appreciation for the project. 

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“It's really important to support those who risked their lives for us,” Maddie Deiters said. “Even the first responders have to face danger every day. They go by this building all the time, saving other people. I would gladly spend eight weeks of my life painting this for them because they risked their life for ours.”


Maddie Deiters paints her copyright onto the mural honoring first responders and those in the military on Wednesday in Marion. 


Maddie Deiters' favorite aspect of the mural was the eagle as it allowed her to flex her creative muscles and skills.

“Nowadays I feel like some people have forgotten the other side of America, how we found this nation through the strength and courage of those who wanted this to happen,” Maddie Deiters said. “It was the first one of its kind and I think, memorializing those people who stood up for our rights, and why America is so different from any other country, was a great honor.”

This is only the second mural Deiters has ever done. It took her and her family roughly seven weeks to complete the mural, Deiters said.

She was the sole design artist on the project. 

While most of the piece came from Deiters’ mind, she used real images in the mural. She colorized different photos from the Vietnam war for the Marines panel, Deiters said.

While signing the mural, a retired Army veteran, Tony Kindrick, stopped by to tell Deiters what he thought of the mural.

“Not only does this beautify the city of Marion ... it also gives it hope,” Kindrick said. “It gives them the transparency that people care about the community, and they want to brighten their community up.”

As the holidays approach and many families get time off, Barnett said he would like to remind people that first responders and the military don’t get that luxury. 

“Thank them for their service,” Barnett said. “These people don't stop working on Christmas. They don't stop working on Thanksgiving. We have fires on Thanksgiving, the police have so many calls on Thanksgiving and  Christmas. These people never stop. When we get to take off for the weekend there's always someone here, there's always somebody riding that rig of that ambulance, in that police squad car, or in that fire truck.”

You can check out Deiters art here

The video has received over 1.4 million views.


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