Muralist Kevin Bate gives us a preview of Saturday night’s Fallen Five mural illumination

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – One of the newest memorials to the fallen five becomes permanent this Saturday night.

Shortly after dark, city officials will flip the switch on the mural tribute to the fallen five servicemen on McCallie Avenue.

Earlier this week News12 Now spoke with artist Kevin Bate to get a preview.

Bate explained, “We’ve got a documentary that WTCI has shot. We’re going to show it around the corner here on the building, so we’ll all be there in the parking lot. When it’s over, assuming it’s dark enough, we will light this and it will be lit forever and ever, Amen.”

The Saturday night ceremony is the capstone to nearly a year of work for Chattanooga muralist Kevin Bate.

Bate said, “I started last August and worked through until a few weeks ago.” He added, “I have felt from the beginning that it’s really important that we remember these five men, the victims, and not the shooter.”

Now everyone who drives by the 1700 block of McCallie Avenue can remember these five heroes.

When News12 asked him about what it was like working on something so large, Bate said, “I knew how big it was going to be, I knew. I maybe didn’t think it through because it was so big. You know, a year later it’s like maybe it could have been smaller but I think this is exactly the right size. I think these five deserve bigger if I could have found bigger, I would have done that.” Adding, “These men were heroes. They made decisions that definitely put their lives in peril and I think that’s worth something. I don’t know if I could do that.”

But what Bate could do was make a building size tribute to each of the service members lost that day.

Bate explained, “I tried to work some stuff in to all the portraits. Something to make each one special. One of the big reasons behind the mural, I saw a picture a couple of days after the shooting of Wyatt Holmquist and his mom holding up a sign saying “We waited 244 days for this while he was on deployment, and it really just struck me. One, I have a son who’s about Wyatt Holmquist’s age, and I couldn’t help but think you know those 244 days while they were waiting for him to come home from a warzone, they had to be thinking, ‘You know, if I can just get him home. Once he gets home, things will be fine. And she got him home and it wasn’t fine. And that picture of her and Wyatt really, that is the reason why I did this. It hit me that he;s only going to know his father up to this point. You know? I wanted to make sure there was a reminder for him and for everybody else out there about who he was and what he did.”

Bate worked in personal details, including each serviceman’s name hidden somewhere in the art, to the purple hearts each family received, even David Wyatt’s widow and children’s hand prints.

It’s all so that Chattanooga remembers these heroes.

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