YORKTOWN, N.Y. - On Memorial Day weekend a couple of years ago, Paul Martin dug up a bit of history while visiting a cemetery in Yorktown.
As he and his son's Boy Scout troop decorated the graves of war veterans with patriotic flags, they came across a headstone belonging to a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, who represented the first group of African-American military aviators in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II.
“My father was a veteran and he instilled in me and my siblings the importance of our history,” Martin said.
In addition to his role as assistant Boy Scout troop master, Martin is a historical artist and illustrator who has re-created scenes from the Civil War, The Revolutionary War and World War II.
Some of those pieces now hang permanently in the Robert E. Lee Civil War Research Center and Library, The Civil War Library and Museum of Philadelphia, Herbert Alumni Hall at West Point and even the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Martin said that even at an early age, he drew much of his creative inspiration from the educational trips he took with his family to historic sites including Fort Ticonderoga and Gettysburg.
“As I was developing my artistic talent, I was drawn to the idea of representing history, like creating landscapes of Civil War battlefields,” he said.
Martin is the president of the Yorktown Historical Society and board member for the Lincoln Society of Peekskill and the West Point Chapter of the Company of Military Historians.
This summer, he will release his first historical non-fiction book, “They Flew with Tigers,” which tells the story of a B24 bomber crew during World War I.
Along with all of his other endeavors, Martin is an art and photography teacher at Pearl River High School.
“I teach history to keep it alive for younger generations to know about and appreciate,” he said.