Painting becomes inspiration for Monument to the Fallen

Donn and Jeanne Weaver headed a two-year effort to get a Monument to the Fallen installed at Cape Canaveral National Cemetery. It was unveiled Sept. 11, 2021.

When their 26-year-old son, Army 1st. Lt. Todd Weaver, was killed in action in Afghanistan, Donn and Jeanne Weaver of Cocoa Beach set out to make sure he would be remembered.

“I vowed that for the rest of my life he would not be forgotten,”

she said.

An artist, Jeanne Weaver set out to paint to help her through the grief. She painted his baby shoes, his baseball cleats and the military boots he wore and many other scenes and things that evoked his memory.

One painting was inspired by photographs she received from a memorial service his fellow soldiers held at Camp Terra Nova, their outpost in Afghanistan, the day after his death.

“Someone took a bunch of pictures,” she said. “I put them all together to make a painting.”

When her son’s unit returned home from Afghanistan, Weaver and her husband Donn Weaver went to Fort Campbell to visit with them and to talk.

“It was heartwarming to see the response from how the other soldiers were affected by Todd’s death,”

she said.

The Weavers made sure their children were busy as they dealt with the grief of losing their brother.

“I said ‘What am I going to do?’ ” she said. “ ‘Mom, you’re going to paint,’ ” they told her.

The painting from the memorial sat in a closet in her home studio until the idea came up for a memorial to troops killed in action. While at the Cape Canaveral National Cemetery, Weaver had noticed that there was not a memorial to the fallen. Though there are none yet interred at the cemetery who died in combat, she thought it would be appropriate.

After a two-year effort to get the authorization and to raise $24,600 for the project, the Memorial to the Fallen was installed Sept. 11 at the cemetery.

“What I saw is that there is a monument that should have been there in January 2016 (when the cemetery opened),” said Chip Hanson, a veterans’ chaplain who participated in the unveiling ceremony. “As a combat veteran, that means so much.”