BUCKHANNON — President Donald Trump recently received an acrylic painting of Jesus Christ from a Buckhannon local, Mel Hager.
Hager sent the President a digital reproduction of the original painting, made by his late brother, Jess Hager. Jess Hager was a famous painter in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who used watercolor and acrylics. He painted the piece of Jesus Christ in 1990, with a tear in his left eye. In an accompanying letter to President Trump along with the painting, Hager explained the tear to represent, “If He [Jesus Christ] came back today, he would shed a tear for you and our nation.”
Also in the letter, Mel Hager stated, “My wife and I want you to have it. I know you pray, and you are a Christian, and what you are doing for our country you need all the help you can receive in so many ways. I also know you must need some quiet time to think and pray. I hope you accept this gift from my wife and I to help you during these trying times in your life.”
Hager stated that he felt honored to be able to give the President one of his brother’s paintings. He noted, “The fact that when he received the painting from me and my wife, he appreciated it enough to answer me within a week and a half.”
At the Upshur County Chamber of Commerce Annual Celebration of Achievements held on March 3, Mel Hager talked with Buckhannon native Kimberly Reed, who is also the President and Chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM), about delivering the painting to the President. Reed was happy to help and presented the painting to White House Director of Protocol and Presidential Gifts Luke Niederhelman, who approved it for the President.
Reed reached out to The Record Delta regarding the presentation and response from President Trump. “It was a tremendous honor to deliver this powerful painting from Mr. Hager to the President of the United States. The President knows all about Buckhannon and Upshur County, and I want to underscore what Mr. Hager said in his letter to the President, ‘Thank you for all you do for upholding American values,’” Reed stated.
Just a week and a half later, Hager received the following response from President Trump:
“Dear Vonnie and Mel, Thank you for your thoughtful gift and generous words of encouragement.
“The firm resolve of the American people to face challenges boldly is a great blessing to our country. I remain confident that together, with trust in God, we will overcome any hardship and build a stronger and more unified country for future generations.
“I appreciate you taking the time to write. Your support means a great deal to Melania and me.”
The late artist’s rendition of Jesus Christ was well received and quite an honor for the Hager family to be accepted by President Trump.