Gray woman's winning design honors veterans

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GRAY — An artist from Gray whose design was chosen for the new Maine Veteran Honorable Service Recognition Coin says she hasn’t “even come down from the cloud yet.”

Georgette Kanach’s design was recently chosen to adorn the coin as well as a plaque that will hang in the Hall of Flags in the state capitol. There are four other veteran recognition plaques hanging in the capitol that represent veterans who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, as well as women veterans. A likeness of each plaque is made into coins and presented to Maine veterans based on their era of service.

The Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services commissioned the Honorable Service Recognition Coin in August to honor veterans who are not eligible to receive one of the four other coins.

Kanach is a self-taught artist who works with scrimshaw, wood burning and airbrushing, among other media. She was inspired to enter the contest because of her family history in the military. Both of her daughters, two grandchildren, three of her brothers and many nieces and nephews either are veterans or continue to serve in the military.

“I thought this would be a really good thing for them,” she said.

Kanach began by doing extensive research on coins and how they’re made and on the four plaques at the capitol.

Designing the coin on the computer was a “kind of art (that) was new for me. It’s not a hand-drawn thing,” she explained.

Another challenge was the fact that the plaque had to encompass both sides of the coin.

She made a list of all the elements she wanted to include and discussed multiple concepts with one of her daughters.

“This is a big deal, and I didn’t want to just take it lightly and throw a design up there. So there had to be a lot of meaning that went into the design,” she said.

“The successful artist will be challenged to create a design that is unique to Maine and relevant to all of Maine’s veterans,” according to the call for designs distributed by the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services.

Kanach submitted her design in September. A five-member selection committee judged the submissions, and Kanach eventually got a call that she was one of two finalists.

“I was floored,” she said.

The Veterans’ Bureau requested some changes to her design, which she completed, and then she resubmitted her design. Maine veterans were invited to vote on the two finalists online, and 1,2000 ballots were cast.

When she received a letter announcing she had won, she said, “I had to read it three times.”

The formal unveiling ceremony has yet to be announced.

She said giving her daughters the coins would be her “greatest joy.”

Kanach feels proud to have been selected, saying, “I haven’t even come down from the cloud yet.”

Jane Vaughan can be reached at 780-9103 or at jvaughan@keepmecurrent.com.

Kanach’s design

Georgette Kanach with her dogs Molly and Star.

Front of coin

Back of coin

Plaque