SAN ANTONIO – It was an unpopular war, most of which happened before Mike Roman even was born.
Still, the sacrifices made by the men and women who were part of the Vietnam conflict are not wasted on him.
“They’re patriots. They love their country,” he said one day recently, staring at the painted images on a wall at the corner of W. Commerce and Colorado streets. “They had a calling and they served it.”
One of those “patriots” was his own father, Tony Roman, who spent time on the front lines in the U. S. Army.
“We really didn’t get my dad back from Vietnam until 30 years later because he was self-medicating to deal with all the post traumatic stress,” said Mike Roman, reflecting on tougher times.
Now the two are close, united in part by the giant mural Mike painted, visually telling his father’s story.
He says a group called San Antonio Cultural Arts contacted him in 2006 with the offer to paint it.
The self-taught artist asked countless questions of his father and other veterans in order to visualize what they experienced.
“Never in my wildest dreams, 50-some years ago, did I think that I would be at the site that my son would do (this),” said Tony Roman.
With cooperation from another local family, Mike was able to put all of his thoughts into pictures.
Jaime Macias says when his family was asked to donate the wall space on the side of their West side building, there was no hesitation.
“My brother being a Vietnam veteran, it was an automatic yes,” he said.
The mural ended up launching a movement.
Numerous veterans flock to the site on a regular basis, taking in the painting of scenes that still live in their minds.
In 2016, Macias held a luncheon to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the mural.
It has become an annual event ever since.
“All the countless veterans that have come to celebrate with us, it is beyond words,” Macias said.
The mural, though, seems to speak volumes to so many people.