“Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.”
Today’s story is from Kaziah Hancock.
A mother to none. Cervical cancer robbed her of that. But in a sense, she is a mom to thousands.
Fallen soldiers. They are her daughters and sons. She’s never met a single one, but she’s loved — and mourned — many. They gave their lives protecting our country. She brings them to life on canvas. She gives them a presence in homes left behind. A lasting memory for those they loved most.
Kaziah Hancock is sometimes referred to as the Goat Woman. She lives on a small ranch in Utah with, you guessed it… about 100 goats. She’s a big-hearted lady who exudes independence and strength. To do what she does, you could be nothing less.
She explains in a news interview, “I don’t know how political I am. I don’t get into all that crap. I just love freedom, ok?”
She also loves to paint. Almost three thousand portraits over the past ten years. Three thousand soldiers who died for our country. And she doesn’t accept a dime in return. In ten years, Kaziah has never denied a portrait request from a fallen soldier’s family. Not one.
“I’ll never stop, until they all come home,” she says. Savvy Dad caught up with Kaziah in her basement studio. This was where, ten years earlier, it all began. A radio broadcast. That’s when she heard the bad news.
James W. Cawley was the first soldier from her home state of Utah, killed in Iraq. “Before it was just this war far away. All of a sudden it was right there in my living room,” she laments. Kaziah brought this soldier to life with brush strokes from the heart. She works from a palette of love.
What about Kaziah’s dad? An inspiration by absence, not words. “I know what it’s like to live without a father,” Kaziah told Savvy Dad. Her own father served in World War I. He died one week before she was born.
Kaziah was forced to grow up without her real dad. She understands what children of fallen soldiers endure. And, mothers too. “Not being able to have children, I have such empathy for these mothers who not only have a child, but who come to know them and depend on them and fill their heart with joy, and then they’re gone.”
Gone, but never forgotten. Kaziah makes sure. When finished, she frames, packages, and sends each portrait to the family. “Ok sweetie, you get to go home to mama,” she whispers, as she boxes up another portrait. “At least it’s a way to say ‘Hey, I love you, kiddo.’ That you may never be forgotten…”
Kaziah Hancock. Goat Woman. Portrait Painter. Mother to none. Mom to thousands.
Dads step aside. It’s Kaziah today. She deserves praise.
“I started painting fallen soldiers in March of 2003 as a simple act of kindness to honor the honorable, to say to the families that someone gives a dam. Although I have never met the soldier or their families in life, I have come to meet some of the highest quality of human beings and that by knowing them and the high cost in human lives for all that we have in America, I try not to waste anything. Not time, food, clothing or my mind. I am very frugal so that I can afford to be generous.
“As the word spreads about Project Compassion and we reach increasing numbers of loved ones of our fallen, our material expenses required to serve them continues to also grow. Whether for art supplies, essential office supplies and services such as shipping, or to help offset our modest travel expenses for the community and service presentations that frequently come our way, every dollar, in-kind gift and gesture helps us.”
To find out more about Project Compassion you can visit the website: Project Compassion.