VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Hundreds of large-scale black-and-white photos featuring our military veterans and their families is part of what’s now being described as the biggest art installation in Virginia Beach.
The “Inside Out Project: Faces of Courage” project is 22 feet high and almost as long as a football field. As you drive along the 5300 block of Virginia Beach Boulevard between Witchduck and Newtown Roads, it’s hard to miss.
So, why Virginia Beach?
“It belongs in Virginia Beach, on this day, for all the obvious reasons,” explained Bobby Levin with The Inside Out Project. “It’s the home to the largest naval base in the world. I heard this morning that 72,000 active military and a military community of over 420,000 is here in Hampton Roads.”
“This is an installation that pays tribute to the sacrifices this military community makes. They have shared experiences, shared emotions, shared feelings. You know, when somebody is in the military, the whole family.”
The project was publicly celebrated with a ceremony. Representative Elaine Luria, Laura Baxter and Mayor Bobby Dyer gave remarks. A last-minute stop by Governor-Elect Glenn Youngkin kicked off the day’s events on Virginia Beach Boulevard.
“It’s really humbling to really recognize the sacrifices that have been made. Yes, by all of our veterans who recognize that freedom isn’t free, but also their families,” said Youngkin. “This is why the ‘Faces of Courage’ means so much to so many people, because we recognize there’s a lot more behind the individuals who go protect our freedom – their families.”
10 On Your Side asked Youngkin what he planned to do for veterans in the commonwealth during his time as governor.
“It’s part of our day one plan, and it was one of our earliest policy rollouts, to make Virginia the very best place for veterans to actually settle and live the rest of their lives with us,” said Youngkin.
The Inside Out Project is a creation of French artist JR, who received the 2011 TED Prize, an award for someone “who knows how to capture the imaginations and make a measurable impact, [is] a visionary and a pragmatist, a dreamer and a doer.”
Levin hopes this project inspires people to be thankful for our service members not just on Veteran’s Day, but every day.
“I just thought that raising that level of awareness would make us a more compassionate community,” said Levin. “Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is not an easy thing to do and it’s hopefully projects like this that will get people to think. Get people to smile. Get people to laugh, you know? Get people out to experience public art and that’s really what it’s about.”
Learn more about the Inside Out Project ; Faces of Courage at USAFacesofCourage.com