Reflections of a Military Child: Inspiration from Abroad

Two award winning works of student art from the National PTA Reflections Arts ProgramThe Magic of a Moment” captured the home coming of military families. This magic moment is obviously a poignant one for some of today’s youth in the continental U.S. and beyond.

We had the chance to interview Benjamin Leese, one of our student artists, to get the story behind his heartfelt inspiration, entitled “Homecoming Dad.”


Do you have a military parent or family?  Yes, my dad is a Captain in the Air Force.

What inspired you to create artwork about a military homecoming? The theme for the Reflections contest was the Magic of the Moment and there was no other moment I could think of that was more magical than the day my dad came home safely from Afghanistan after being gone for a year.  It was tough hearing about all the things that were happening over there and never knowing if my dad was safe or not, so when he got off that plane and I could run up and hug him- that was just great!

Ben and DadHow did you get involved with Reflections?  I never heard of Reflections until I came to Italy.  This is the first time I was in a DOD (Department of Defense) school.  I have been doing art since I could pick up a pencil and I love it.  I think my art teacher realized I had some talent when I first was in her class, so when Ms. Lizee heard about the contest, she asked if I wanted to enter and I said, “Of course, who wouldn’t.”

What inspires you to be an artist?  It’s funny because this year’s theme for Reflections is Believe, Dream, and Inspire and so I had to really think about that question already. Inspiration is an amazing thing because it can come from almost anywhere or anything.  Inspiration encourages many people to do anything, dream anything, and become anyone and their creativity is unlimited.  For me as an artist, I am inspired by everything I see, whether it’s a dream, a vision, a historical landmark, a famous museum, other famous artists, or even the Superheroes in my comic books.  I am always inspired.  Believe me, being in Europe for three years and getting the chance to visit these famous places, there is lots to inspire me.

Do you have a mentor that encourages you to keep creating? My dad, he has been my battery to my flashlight of creativity.  He’s the one who pushes me. He gives me new ideas and has taught me everything I know.  Without him I wouldn’t be winning any kind of contest, ever.

It is clear that Benjamin’s love and appreciation for his dad is unending.  Though Benjamin lives in Italy, his patriotic spirit shines in his words and his art.  We, here at National PTA, want to acknowledge and celebrate all military children like Benjamin.  We want him and others to know that their courage and creativity are admirable and that PTA Reflections will continue to support them in their artistic endeavors.

For more information about the European Congress PTA, check out their website!

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