On December 12th, 1983, one hundred sixty five men, all recipients of our nation's highest military award, The Congressional Medal of Honor, gathered in the presence of President Ronald Reagan, General William Westmoreland, New York City Mayor Ed Koch and dozens of lesser luminaries to witness the unveiling of Alton Tobey's Medal of Honor Mural. It was soon installed in the largest of three rooms aboard the aircraft carrier Intrepid, now the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum docked permanently in New York City on the Hudson River.
Planned as an original painting, "grand in scale and unforgettable in content and execution," the eight by nine foot mural has become the Intrepid's perpetual artistic signature.
Tobey's description of his mural in his own words: "My mural on the aircraft carrier Intrepid, for the rooms for the recipients of the Congressional Medal of honor is divided between an episode on the bottom half and a symbolic statement on the upper portion.
"The inspiration for the lower half of my mural was the action of young Arthur MacArthur in the Civil War battle at Missionary Ridge. Without orders to continue the assault on the ridge, the nineteen year old soldier picked up a fallen flag and charged up the steep slope. The front line followed him. The siege of Chattanooga was broken.
"The vertical line of the upraised 50 star flag in the crouched young man's hands, intersects and is continued by the statue of the Statue of Liberty, which dominates the upper, symbolic part of the painting. Liberty's lamp is illuminating the troubled clouds with the rosy glow of dawn.
"Flanking Liberty at her right side, are medalled representatives of the five armed services. On her left are men in the uniforms of the wars from the Civil War on."
"The muralist is sort of a visual playwright, Muralism is an exercise in research, in characterization, in dramatization. And in problem solving."