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An INSP original series narrated by Gary Sinise, Brush of Honor pays tribute to service members who made the ultimate sacrifice. Each episode, artist Phil Taylor paints a portrait of a fallen hero, leading up to a ceremony and the portrait’s reveal. Now, INSP Vice President of Original Programming, Craig Miller gives you a behind-the-scenes look at how this emotional and inspiring series came to be.
You may hear about war casualties in the news, but you really, truly don’t understand what that means until you step into the home of a family that has lost a loved one at war. Brush of Honor gives viewers an unfiltered look at the raw emotion that these families experience. Obviously, there is a profound sense of loss and sorrow, but there is an equal amount of unabashed pride. It’s painful to hear a spouse or a parent talk about losing a loved one at war, but it’s also a joy to see them beaming with pride over a true hero’s life of achievement, valor, duty, and sacrifice. It is often said that America sends her best and brightest off to war to defend our freedoms, and viewers of Brush of Honor will quickly realize the truth of that saying.
As the network executive, I am not on location for every shoot, but one story pops to mind. When I attended the presentation of Navy Hospital Corpsman James Layton’s portrait in Calistoga, California, James’ father, Brent, asked for an opportunity to say a few words. Brent spoke from the heart and without any notes, and I was very touched by his heartfelt speech. What impressed me most about Brent was how, like all of the families in the program, he took the time to say “thank you” to Phil for painting his son’s portrait.
Brent went on to comment about how difficult it must be for Phil to do this kind of thing time after time, year after year. In a very real sense Phil forms a relationship with every fallen service member that he paints. He meets their friends, families, and comrades, and he spends 60-120 hours alone in a studio painting them and thinking about their lives. So, when the time comes to present the portrait to the family, Phil also experiences a profound sense of loss. Obviously, this isn’t something that Phil would ever share publicly because he would never compare his sense of loss to that of the Gold Star families, but it was clear that he was deeply touched by Brent’s acknowledgement and his sincere words of thanks.
As Vice President of Original Programming for INSP, Craig Miller oversees the development, launch, and production of the network’s unscripted programming. Prior to his television career, Craig was a graphic artist and account executive in the advertising industry.