Berrey to present painting to

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 28, 2001

NY heros


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On Sept. 13, Brandon Berrey put his feelings on paper – his sadness, his pride in his country, his appreciation of his fellow man and his faith in God.

He titled his painting "God Bless America."

Today, that painting is being displayed around the country as a symbol of patriotism and remembrance and as a tribute to the rescue personnel at Ground Zero.

Thousands of people across the country have downloaded

the painting off the Internet and tacked it on their walls. Others are wearing it on tee shirts and others have posters of the painting.

Next week, Berrey will be in New York and will present a framed poster of "God Bless America" to a group of the city’s firefighters.

"I dreamed that one day I would go to New York and present a poster to the firefighters," he said. "But I thought that was just a dream."

However, a week before Berrey graduates from TSU, that dream will come true.

Dr. Jean Laliberte, vice president of advancement at TSU, invited Berrey and his family to join a university sponsored trip to New York City Dec. 6 -9.

"We will take this opportunity for Brandon to present his poster to the New York City firefighters," she said. "Arrangements for the presentation are being made and we plan to invite the Troy State University Alumni Association of New York to join our group for the presentation."

In order to help finance the trip for Berrey and his family, a framed "God Bless America" poster and a framed original Berrey painting of a rose will be auctioned on WTBF Radio Friday morning beginning around 6:45.

"The framed poster is one of only 10, so it will be a collector’s item," she said. "The rose is absolutely beautiful and it is uniquely framed. Both are outstanding pieces of art."

Laliberte said Berrey has given so much of himself to this project and she expressed hope that the Pike County community will support him as he goes to present a gift from his heart to a group of real American heroes.

Two months after the terrorist attacks, Berrey’s painting continues to circulate throughout the country and his posters are still a hot sale item.

All of the money collected has gone into a fund to benefit the survivors of the fallen heroes of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Berrey will present the monetary donation to the New York firefighters along with the poster honoring them and all emergency personnel.

Berrey said as he watched the horror of Sept. 11 unfold he was so moved by the heroism of the firefighters and other emergency personnel that he wanted to do something to honor them.

"I prayed about it and God led me to use my talent," he said. "So, I put my feelings on paper and other people seemed to relate to them."

Almost as soon as Berrey posted his painting on the Internet, people reacted to it.

"I was surprised that it touched so many people," he said. "I didn’t care that people were having posters made. I wasn’t trying to make any money. I just wanted to do something and that was what I could do."

The day Berrey stands before his "heroes" will be a highlight of his young life, perhaps, the highlight.

Even though he has not received any money from the sale of the posters, the reward he will receive that day "will be worth more than all the money in the world."

"To be there and shake the hands of those men and women will be my reward," he said. "They are the reason I did it. I did it for them. I’m an emotional person and I know when I see them, I will be affected. It might be hard not to cry."