Thursday, October 18, 2012


The Homecoming

The May 26, 1945 SEP Cover

Norman Rockwell, typically topical, shows us an American serviceman returning home to his loved ones after serving in World War Two. This young American soldier is home. Finally.
Whether for good or just on leave, he is home. Home.
There's no place like it in all the world. We can be sure this is his home because of all the people who are glad to see him. His mother's face is positively luminous. One little sister is standing on the steps, loudly calling his name. His youngest sister is peeking around from behind the other sister and grinning from ear to ear. His little brother has skipped the steps entirely and has jumped from the porch to the ground. He will be hugging our homecoming soldier with just a few more leaps. But the little dog will beat little brother there. Our soldier's father, pipe in hand is looking out the door, just a couple of steps behind mother and the girls. The man repairing the roof of the porch has taken leave of his task for a few minutes to turn and speak to our soldier as well. All the neighbors in this tight knit community are calling his name. Neighbors are standing on their own porches, leaning out windows and even peering over the fence to see and welcome our homecoming hero. Even the boys climbing trees stop to notice and acknowledge our hero's return. Every home has, displayed in a window, a placard with one or more blue stars on a field of white and a red border. They confer that the family living inside has a serviceman fighting in the war. Those families will also breathe a sigh of relief when their heroes return home, safe and sound.
The first person we notice, stilll waiting quietly to welcome this soldier home, is his sweetheart, the girl he left behind. She is waiting patiently at the corner of the house, possibly unseen and certainly unnoticed by his family. She is patiently waiting her turn, just as she patiently waited for his return. He is doing a valiant job of concentrating on his family when we know he also wants to hug his sweetheart. Maybe that is the contrast in the painting.
Rockwell captured every emotion in this painting. He also captured and recorded every detail, right down to the laundry drying in the breeze on the clothesline.
Norman Rockwell Museum and The Here at Home Committee held a welcome home ceremony for 1st Lt. Andrew Shaw and Sgt. Kelsey Shaw, two soldiers returning to the Berkshire after being deployed abroad. The homecoming ceremony was held at the museum on Saturday, June 23, 2012 starting at 1 p.m. The soldiers and their families were honored by regional dignitaries during the ceremony, which was held in front of Norman Rockwell's rarely seen original 1945 painting "The Homecoming," currently on view thanks to a short-term loan. A reception followed, with homemade apple pie, lemonade, photo re-enactments of Rockwell's wartime illustrations, and the premiere of singer/songwriter Mary Verdi's "Here at Home" music video.
The event was free but does not include museum admission. Norman Rockwell Museum is a committed participant in the Blue Star Museums Program, and extends the program benefits to offer free admission to active military personnel and their families year-round. The Here at Home Committee was formed by Verdi and Rosanne Frieri, director of veteran services for Pittsfield.
The committee has one goal: to welcome back soldiers to the Berkshires with a dignified welcome home greeting and salute their bravery with a billboard letting the community know of their service to the country. During World War II, Rockwell's humanistic portrayals of soldiers on the American homefront were a reassuring presence in the popular press during trying times. The artist received many fan letters from Saturday Evening Post readers who appreciated his artistry and the stories that he chose to tell, and his May 26, 1945 cover illustration of a GI returning home to an overjoyed community of family, friends and neighbors received rave reviews. (

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