JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
Brooke Army Medical Center recently hosted an unveiling ceremony in the Medical Mall for a painting donated by former United Nations Ambassador Warren W. Tichenor.
“I’m very honored to be invited to be with you for this very memorable occasion,” Tichenor said during his remarks. “Mario, and to everyone at BAMC, this is your day because today we’re here to unveil a painting by Sgt. Mario Lopez that will hang here at BAMC for all time.”
Retired Army Sgt. Mario Lopez, a former BAMC patient, painted the stylized image of the American flag on canvas.
Lopez took time to speak with the audience about his time at BAMC after being injured in Afghanistan in 2008. The vehicle he was riding in hit an improvised explosive device. He sustained a head injury, lost his right arm, the fingers on his left hand, and was burned over more than 50 percent of his body. He had three surgeries in Germany and was then flown to San Antonio to complete his rehabilitation at BAMC.
“Being here in this facility brings back so many memories – some bad, but mostly good,” Lopez said. “I’m alive. I’m alive because God wanted me here, but I’m also alive because of the exceptionalism of this country, the exceptionalism of this facility and the exceptionalism of the individuals who occupy this place. I’m standing here because of your training, your experience and your love.”
Lopez thanked everyone who had assembled for the ceremony and said he hoped his painting will positively influence staff, patients, and family members who see it, and he hopes it reminds them all that life “really is worth living.”
Tichenor, who served as the U.N. ambassador under President George W. Bush, read a letter from the former president to Lopez which congratulated him on the occasion of his painting’s unveiling.
“The painting is a testament to your resilience and I am grateful that art helped you heal your wounds of war,” the letter from read Bush. “I know your artwork will be a source of inspiration to those at BAMC for years to come.”
The painting is displayed on the wall across from the Medal of Honor display in the Medical Mall.