Vet pays tribute to country

Published 8:43 pm Monday, June 6, 2011

Paul Focht of Edwardsburg poses next to a boulder on his lawn he painted with the American flag. The Desert Storm veteran completed the project in time for Memorial Day. (Argus photo/KATIE ROHMAN)

Paul Focht of Edwardsburg poses next to a boulder on his lawn he painted with the American flag. The Desert Storm veteran completed the project in time for Memorial Day. (Argus photo/KATIE ROHMAN)

Desert Storm veteran Paul Focht wanted to display his patriotism in a unique way.

So the Edwardsburg resident decided to decorate a boulder he had transplanted to his front yard on Claire Street years ago.

“I always wanted a big rock,” said Focht, a 13-year veteran of the Air Force. “I always wanted a flag on there. I just decided to do it myself.”

Inspired by the Freedom Rock in Iowa — a similar, larger rock with rotating patriotic scenes — Focht completed the project in about a week, finishing it the Friday before Memorial Day. He layed a flag over the rock to gauge where the stars and stripes should line up.

The painting, however, was no easy task because the stars required intricate detailing. Those took three hours to complete.

“It really was harder than I thought,” Focht said.

The end product, he said, is well worth it. A neighbor constructed a silhouette of a soldier kneeling over a grave to accompany the boulder, which is surrounded by smaller rocks and landscaping.

“A lot of people thought it was actually a flag,” his wife, Lisa, said of the artwork.

“It’s respect. It’s honor,” Focht said of the project. “A lot of people take the military for granted. I wanted to do my part.”