Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Friday, December 20, 2013

Andrew Wyeth's "The Patriot"

Andrew Wyeth saw first saw World War I veteran Ralph Cline in a Veterans Day parade and realized that the old soldier was the epitome of a proud and patriotic American. Wyeth described his Maine neighbor as, "Absolutely the patriot. The American flag means everything to him. Kind of man that fought at Concord Bridge." In 1964 Cline sat for this portrait that came to be titled the Patriot. The portrait was featured in Life magazine, on television, and was hung for a time at West Point. It's in a private collection today, but prints of the painting can be found online.

Click on Image to Expand

Doughboy Veteran Ralph Cline

The subject, Ralph Cline (1895-1976), enlisted in April 1917 and served in the 64th Infantry, 7th Division of the AEF, which was in action the last days of the war in the St. Mihiel sector. After the war, he returned to Maine for the rest of his life working first as a lobsterman and then settling on operating a sawmill. He married Miriam Crockett in 1927; they had three children together and remained married for fifty years. During World War II, Cline served in the Maine State Guard Reserves, a militia unit formed to replace the state's National Guard troops, who had been called to federal service. Later, both his son Ralph, Jr., and grandson, Ralph III, followed the family tradition of military service.

Note:  We have an interesting photo of the 64th Infantry celebrating at the hour of the Armistice, which could — for all I know — include Ralph Cline at the December St. Mihiel Trip Wire:


  1. Thank you - wonderful story and though I am a Wyeth fan I did not know this picture. Great link to photo in current SMTW!

    1. My mother, Mary Waterman (RIP 2006) took those photos of Ralph Cline in 1969. If anyone would like high quality copies, please contact me at I have the originals. My name is Emily Dillon (nee' Waterman)

    2. As a Wyeth fan, you will be interested in the Facebook page devoted to his work. A post today featured the portrait of Ralph Cline. See my comment about the "Roads to the Great Warthere" tribute there []. - Louis Torres [Aristos]

  2. Intriguing in that Sgt. Cline is wearing what looks like a Mexican Service Medal ribbon in both the photographs and the Wyeth painting.

  3. General Pershing was head of a small army that were in Mexico searching for renegade, Pancho Villa, who crossed our border to rob and kill Americans. When we entered WWI, this small group left Mexico and sailed to France with him. That might explain the Mexican Service Medal ribbon, I realy don't know.

  4. Name: Ralph E. Cline
    Serial Number: 1033078
    Birth Place: Rockland, Maine
    Birth Date: 19 Mar 1894
    Residence: Spruce Head
    Comment: Enl: RA at Ft. Slocum, N. Y., Apr. 25/17. Pvt; Pvt 1st cl July 14/17; Cpl Sept. 23/17; Sgt Jan. 18/18. Org: Co B 34 Inf to June 11/17; Co B 64 Inf to disch. Eng: Meuse-Argonne; Defensive Sector. Overseas: Aug. 12/18 to June 18/19. Hon disch on demob: June 25, 1919.
    From the Roster of Maine Military Men 1917-1918.
    I agree it looks like a Mexican Service Medal but I do not see how he was entitled to it based on his record.

    Neil Burns

    1. The 34th was on the border so he may have qualified for the Mexican Border Service Medal ( he is not listed in the medal roll but that doesn't mean he didn't qualify) and got the wrong ribbon.

  5. A memorable 4th grade teacher, Cynthia Smith,
    Invited Mr. Kline to my fourth grade class at the intermediate school in Warren, ME. I'm 53 now so I believe the year was 1973. Mr. Kline arrived in the same uniform with the painting which I'm assuming was a copy. He spoke of his service and of sitting for Andrew Wyeth. Ms. Smith went to Russia that school year to learn about their there way of teaching and I believe to share some of the teaching experiences from the U.S. She would stay in touch with postcards to each of her students and include some interesting things about Russia including a few words of the language. I believe she shared her experiences at schools after she returned and I lost track of her. Thank you Ralph Kline, Andrew Wyeth (also his father NC and son Jaime). Thank you especially to Ms. Smith for being an outstanding teacher. You have left an extraordinary place in my mind and heart. Herb Hamblen, Milton, NH.

  6. I am reading a book about Andrew Wyeth and it mentioned that Ralph Cline patrolled the Mexican border at the time of Pancho Villa and in WWI was a Sargeant -- fought all through the Meuse-Argonne.

  7. my wife and i met his son on a walk in spruce head maine outside his sawmill. he told us the story of his father and the portrait. he was so proud of his father, as he should be. david vernon columbia,tn.