The Long Track Home by James Dietz
Throughout history, America's Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen continuously answer the call of duty when the freedoms of people around the world are subjugated. They leave the peace, comfort, and warmth of their home, separated from spouses, children, relatives, and friends in order to fight battles in distant lands sometimes in the most austere of locations; enduring the harshest of environments. Memories of times spent with loved ones and the support from thousands of miles away are key to the resiliency our troops maintain in order to continue on with the fight no matter what threat they may encounter. Eventually, they will return home and open arms await them. The trials of the fight are momentarily washed away and replaced with feelings of happiness, safety, and peace.
The scene is within a metropolitan train station at the end of World War II. Perhaps Grand Central Station in downtown New York City? The setting isn't important. It could easily be transposed to a rural train station, an air, or seaport. The specific war is also unimportant; the strength of the 'military family' is enduring and this homecoming could easily be seen during WWI, Korea, or even today during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, or any of the numerous crises around the world where America's sons and daughters are quick to react to.
Dietz brilliantly captures the emotions of the Soldiers, Sailors, Marine, Airman, and a nurse from the Women's Army Corps returning after completion of battles fought. The train has just rolled into the station as the smoke has billowed up upon the platform from the steam engine accenting the feel of this magnificent piece. The main viewpoint of this painting is of an Army Artillery Officer reuniting with his beloved family. His wife hugs him; a grip that the viewer imagines will never release as she hopes to keep him away from danger for as long as she can. The two young daughters have grown so much since dad last saw them. His joy is apparent as he listens to one of many stories the youngest wants to tell before they get home that evening.
A young boy in the foreground calls out, "Read all about it...The War is Over, Unconditional Surrender!!!" His words radiate throughout the train station and one can see the patriotism and pride that Dietz mixes into every brushstroke of this painting; from the two sailors awaiting their stop where a similar scene will surely appear; to the young woman on the left painted perfectly in the dress of the 1940s style waving to what is likely to be her husband/Soldier not quite visible off the canvas to the right; to the older businessman who reads the news article over the rims of his glasses with a smile of respect for those who have volunteered to fight for the freedoms of those who are oppressed in foreign lands.
This scene is common to many military men and women, yet only Mr. Dietz has been able to capture the very essence of the homecoming of America's fighting force to their families and loved ones. It is difficult to look upon this painting without wishing our troops all the best upon returning home from the hardships of war.