Two tears made a connection between Harold McKinley Sr. of Juneau and President Bush.
As he was listening to the news broadcasts of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, McKinley was finishing a sketch with colored ballpoint pens.
"I was sketching this bald eagle before this incident happened, and I started adding a feather," McKinley, 67, said. "I was keeping up with the news, and a tear came to my eye. The thought came to mind of all these poor little kids, all their moms and dads had been working in the twin towers" of the World Trade Center.
"Then I looked at my sketch, picked up a pen and put a tear on there," he said, gesturing to the eagle's eye. "The single feather represents a spirit feather for the spirits of the departed."
McKinley sent his drawing to President Bush. He received an answer last week: "Thank you for writing about the acts of war committed against the U.S. on Sept. 11 and for sending your thoughtful remembrance," Bush's printed reply begins. "Since these terrible tragedies occurred, our citizens have been generous, kind, resourceful, and brave. I encourage all Americans to find a way to help."
The letter arrived at his workplace, the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, surprising McKinley.
"I saw the return address, the White House, and opened it and couldn't believe it," he said. "Everybody wanted to see it. I figured I had better put it in a frame before it got fingerprints on it."
McKinley said he used to draw as a little boy. About two years ago, while his wife was grocery shopping, he detoured into an art supply store and stocked up.
"I have so much on my mind at work," he said. "When I get home, drawing relaxes me and I enjoy doing it. It keeps me out of trouble."
McKinley has had some of his drawings printed as stickers, and a month ago he gave away 900 of them at a Chookaneidi (traditional Tlingit funeral party) at Hoonah's Alaska Native Brotherhood hall.
McKinley's latest drawing shows the Statue of Liberty flanked by eagle and raven totem poles against an American flag background.
Ann Chandonnet can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.