Heroes have come in all shapes and forms during the coronavirus pandemic.
It's a point dramatized by a painting unveiled Wednesday at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma by the Asian Jade Society of the Suffolk County Police Department.
The 30-inch-by-40-inch mural, by artist John Clancy of Bay Shore, depicts a racially and ethnically diverse group of cops, doctors, firefighters, nurses and workaday laborers — supermarket employees, chefs, construction workers and delivery truck drivers — who have been indispensable in the fight against COVID-19.
“It’s giving honors to the people who are really on the front lines," Clancy, 71, said in an interview, "putting their lives on the line, really.”
The painting will hang in the Islip Town-owned airport terminal to pay tribute to the workers and the sacrifices they have made since the virus began infecting Long Island residents this year, said Asian Jade Society vice president Thomas Joy, 41, a Suffolk police officer who specializes in recruitment. The society, which is open to anyone, including those who are not officers, promotes Asian culture and acts as a liaison between police and Long Island's Asian community, he said.
The society is selling 16-inch-by-20-inch prints of the painting — titled “Every Generation Has Its Heroes” — on its website, scpajs.org. Joy said 2,020 prints are available for $20.20 each.
Proceeds will go to various charitable efforts launched by the society, including food drives and scholarships, Joy said.
Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter said the painting commemorates "an unimaginable time in our history.
"This painting will be a lasting reminder for travelers the world over, who pass through our airport and who share a debt of gratitude to those who rose to this immeasurable challenge,” she said in a statement.
Clancy, who said his Hauppauge trade show and events planning business is "totally gone" because of the pandemic, said he used pictures he found online depicting people in various professions as the basis of his painting. He did not charge the society for his work, he said.
Behind the workers in the painting is the USNS Comfort — the Naval hospital ship that was berthed briefly in New York City to assist local hospitals overwhelmed by patients.
Joy said the society usually takes part in social events such as dinners and the annual Port Jefferson dragon boat race, which has been canceled this year. Since March, the society has thrown itself into charity efforts, making 2,000 face shields at a converted factory and giving gifts such as bottles of wine to hospital workers, he said.
The society also has provided 2,000 meals for front-line workers and donated canned food to pantries, he said.
“We see little cracks in people’s lives that people may not be aware of,” Joy said. “A lot of people don’t have money anymore. They may have lost their jobs.”