The Great American Eclipse and a Canvas of Community: How Veterans Foster Connection and Belonging 

Mar 7, 2024

A celebration of a collaboration between veterans, volunteers, and the community in creating a mural commemorating The Great American Eclipse of April 8, 2024

As brushes dipped in vibrant colors met the wall, a mural began to take shape, commemorating a total solar eclipse that will span coast-to-coast and signaling a new dawn for the central Texas community. This is a story of how, under the banner of the Killeen Service Platoon of The Mission Continues, veterans like Juanita Myers continue to serve their country beyond the battlefield, fostering unity, healing, and growth in their local communities through projects.

This mural, painted on the side of the Star Group – Veterans Helping Veterans building, became more than just art; it was a beacon of community, connection, and the transformative power of collective action. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the project seamlessly wove together the threads of service, history, and anticipation for the upcoming total solar eclipse that won’t be seen again on the majority of the North American continent for another 20 years. This service project paid homage to the ecological culture of the area during the last total solar eclipse that graced the Texas skies in 1878, while looking forward to the next celestial spectacle due on April 8.

The Project: A Beacon of Service and Artistry 

The mural that now adorns the side of the Star Group – Veterans Helping Veterans building in Copperas Cove is not just a work of art; it’s a storytelling canvas that captures the essence of Texas’ rich ecological culture, intertwined with the awe-inspiring phenomenon of a total solar eclipse. The creation of this mural was a labor of love that began as a blank canvas but quickly evolved into a vibrant depiction of local wildlife – featuring several cacti, a rabbit, a deer, and a sheep, set against the backdrop of the moon crossing in front of a large circle, symbolizing the sun. Keep Copperas Cove Beautiful partnered with local artists Jonathan and Crystal Owens from Rainbow Heart Studios, who designed the mural, infusing it with symbols of unity and renewal. Meanwhile, the veterans and volunteers of The Killeen Service Platoon of The Mission Continues rolled up their sleeves, bringing the vision to life with every brushstroke, demonstrating that service extends beyond the uniform. Community involvement was a cornerstone of this project, with volunteers of all ages coming together to paint, each adding their personal touch to the mural.

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The unveiling of the mural became a symbolic moment for Copperas Cove, marking the beginning of the city’s official solar eclipse-related events and setting the stage for a unifying celestial celebration. This collective effort culminated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony that celebrated not just the completion of the mural, but the shared journey of creation that brought the community closer.

Veterans Leading by Example 

At the forefront of the Killeen Service Platoon’s remarkable initiative in Copperas Cove stands Juanita Myers, a disabled Army combat veteran whose military journey spanned over six years. Yet, her transition from military to civilian life did not signal the end of her service. Instead, Myers found a new avenue to continue her life’s mission of serving others through The Mission Continues, specifically leading the charge with the Killeen Service Platoon. Myers’ motivation stems from a deep-seated belief in the power of service to forge connections, heal, and bring about positive change in the community. Her leadership goes beyond organizing and participating in service projects; it’s about inspiring a sense of purpose and direction among fellow veterans and volunteers. The Killeen Service Platoon, under Juanita Myers’ leadership, has become a sanctuary for veterans seeking to rediscover their sense of purpose post-military life.

For many veterans, the transition to civilian life can be challenging, marked by a search for belonging and a way to continue serving. The Killeen Service Platoon provides just that – a platform for continued service that enriches not just the communities they serve but their own lives as well. Through projects like the eclipse mural, veterans and volunteers alike experience the camaraderie and unity reminiscent of their time in service. In the Killeen Service Platoon, veterans and volunteers find more than just a group of individuals working towards a common goal; they find a family. A family that supports, inspires, and pushes each other to be the best version of themselves, all while making a tangible impact on the world around them. It is here, in the brushstrokes of a mural or the cleanup of a community park, that they rediscover their purpose, finding new ways to serve and lead by example in the next chapter of their lives.

Join the Movement of Veterans and Volunteers 

The story of the eclipse mural in Copperas Cove is a testament to what can be achieved when individuals come together for a cause greater than themselves. But the journey doesn’t end here; it’s only the beginning. You, too, can be a part of this transformative movement!

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Whether you are a veteran looking to continue your service in a new capacity, or a community member eager to make a difference, joining a local service platoon offers a unique opportunity to find purpose and community. The Mission Continues facilitates a wide variety of projects, from environmental conservation efforts to the creation of public art, each designed to address the specific needs of different communities across the country. To join a service platoon and start making a difference in your local area, visit HERE and find a platoon near you. For those who wish to support the mission but may not be able to volunteer their time, consider making a donation to The Mission Continues. Every donation, no matter the size, helps to empower communities and provide veterans with opportunities to lead and serve. 

Together, we can continue to make a difference, one community at a time. Charlie Mike, Continue the Mission!