GRAY — An artist from Gray whose design was chosen for the new Maine Veteran Honorable Service Recognition Coin says she hasn’t “even come down from the cloud yet.”

Georgette Kanach’s design was recently chosen to adorn the coin and a plaque that will hang in the Hall of Flags in the State House in Augusta. Four other veteran recognition plaques hang in the State House to represent veterans who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and female veterans. A likeness of each plaque is made into coins and presented to Maine veterans based on their era of service.

The Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services commissioned the Honorable Service Recognition Coin in August to honor veterans who are not eligible to receive one of the four other coins.

Kanach is a self-taught artist who works with scrimshaw, wood burning and airbrushing, among other media. She was inspired to enter the contest because of her family’s military history. Both of her daughters, two grandchildren, three of her brothers and many nieces and nephews either are veterans or serve in the military.

“I thought this would be a really good thing for them,” she said.

Kanach began by doing extensive research on coins and how they’re made, and on the four plaques at the State House.

Designing the coin on the computer was a “kind of art (that) was new for me. It’s not a hand-drawn thing,” she said.

Another challenge was that the plaque had to encompass both sides of the coin.

She made a list of all of the elements she wanted to include and discussed multiple concepts with one of her daughters.

“This is a big deal, and I didn’t want to just take it lightly and throw a design up there. So there had to be a lot of meaning that went into the design,” she said.

“The successful artist will be challenged to create a design that is unique to Maine and relevant to all of Maine’s veterans,” according to the call for designs distributed by the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services.

Kanach submitted her design in September. A five-member selection committee judged the submissions, and Kanach eventually got a call that she was one of two finalists.

“I was floored,” she said.

The Veterans’ Bureau requested some changes to her design, which she completed, and then resubmitted it. Maine veterans were invited to vote on the two finalists online, and 1,200 ballots were cast.

When she received a letter announcing she had won, she said, “I had to read it three times.”

Kanach’s daughters will be the first to receive Honorable Service Recognition Coins at the formal unveiling ceremony, which has yet to be announced.

She said giving her daughters the coins would be her “greatest joy.”

Georgette Kanach with her dogs, Molly and Star. (The Forecaster photo by Jane Vaughan)

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