Story and photos by Chief Petty Officer Nick Ameen
A patriot’s palette comprises more colors than red, white and blue. A vast array of tones is a testament to true devotion to country. A Coast Guardsman in South Jersey shows his true colors and patriotism through the gift of art, a talent he considers a hobby.
Petty Officer 1st Class Justin Lacy, a boatswain’s mate at Coast Guard Station Atlantic City, New Jersey, has created a work of art that will adorn the boat station’s walls for generations to come. He calls it chart art.
“It’s a pretty traditional practice amongst units to have an artist do chart art,” said Lacy. “It’s typically done by a painter. They’ll take the area of responsibility chart for a unit and use it as a canvas, painting the unit, assets or any kind of prominent landmark that would represent that particular unit.”
Lacy’s chart art shows the station, boats, crewmembers and the Atlantic City skyline, including the Absecon Lighthouse — the tallest lighthouse in New Jersey. He even included the unit’s old mascot, Nucky the Newfoundland, sitting by the front door.
“It was a good opportunity for me to take advantage of because I hadn’t done any of my art for years, so it was nice to dust off the cobwebs a little bit,” said Lacy. “The chart art has been a long process for me — just getting back into it — but I’m thrilled to do something like this. It’s my way of giving back. The idea that it’ll hang on the walls indefinitely makes me feel good. I’m leaving my mark on the unit.”
The chart art isn’t the first time Lacy has blended his hobby with his profession. He drew a portrait of his late brother in-law, Fireman Michael Bovill
“As I worked on the drawing and it started to come alive, so to speak, it was more and more exciting for me,” said Lacy. “I was thrilled to present it to his family and see how much joy it brought them. I did it because I wanted to do something nice for the family and give them something to honor Michael’s service.”
Lacy said the chart art is his way of giving back to his unit, but his Coast Guard service is his patriotic way of giving back to his country.
“I think a patriot is somebody who recognizes the sacrifices that have been made for their freedom,” said Lacy. “I consider myself a patriot in the sense that my grandfather served in World War II as an Air Force fighter pilot, my brother’s in the Navy and here I am in the United States Coast Guard. Serving our country to the capacity of the armed forces is my way of giving back to the country that’s given so much to so many people and to myself.
“I love being an American,” said Lacy. “I was blessed to have been born in this beautiful country. Being grateful and never forgetting sacrifices that have been made for us to live the way we do — that’s patriotism to me.”
Lt. Cmdr. C.K. Moore, the former commanding officer of Station Atlantic City, said the final product far exceeded his expectations.
“I know Lacy’s talent and I know his ability,” said Moore. “This chart art is the best work I’ve seen him do, and I’ve seen him do some great stuff. What he had to do to put this all together is pretty interesting, so I’m really proud of how this turned out.”
Lacy’s artwork was digitally scanned, so for years to come departing members of the unit will receive a print of the chart art to remember their service at Station Atlantic City.