‘Fortitude’: An Amazing Painting and True Story The Society August 28, 2013 Art, Falun Dafa One of the oil paintings in the Art of Zhen, Shan, Ren International Exhibition is titled “Fortitude” [by Wang Weixing] and depicts a middle-aged man standing with immense poise in a swirling snowstorm. The blizzard fails to deter him from appealing to the public to help stop the human rights violations of Falun Gong practitioners in China. This work of art was actually drawn from real life. The man in the portrait is Leon Lemmon, who, together with his wife Julia, has been working tirelessly to raise awareness of the plight of Falun Gong practitioners in China during the past ten plus years. Having benefited tremendously from the wonderful practice of Falun Gong, Leon and Julia just couldn’t sit still watching their fellow practitioners in China being tortured and killed just for believing in Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. An oil executive with a Houston-based petroleum company, Leon took early retirement in 2002, and the couple began a long journey of fighting for justice for their counterparts in China. More than ten years have passed, yet the Chinese regime still continues to inflict harm on countless Falun Gong practitioners. Leon and Julia have never let up in their efforts, and they firmly believe that when more and more people come to see the atrocities of the Chinese regime, justice will prevail. A Predestined Relationship with China Born in Oklahoma, Leon earned two bachelor’s degrees and worked at a petroleum company for 23 years prior to his retirement. Now he lives in New York with his wife and daughter. Leon’s wife, Julia, was originally from China and had a keen interest in different kinds of qigong practice. After she came across Falun Dafa in January 2002, she immediately knew she had found what she had been looking for. Her heart was filled with joy at understanding the true meaning of life, and she couldn’t wait for her husband try this wonderful practice, too. So, just one week after Julia began her practice of Falun Dafa, Leon started reading the main Dafa text, Zhuan Falun . He really liked the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance and totally identified with the teaching that one should strive to be a good person in every social environment. Leon once suffered from osteonecrosis and had already had the femur in his right leg replaced. After he became a practitioner of Falun Dafa, he no longer needed surgery on his left leg, and his high blood-pressure of five years was also gone. Leon was amazed by his own miraculous recovery and was convinced by Dafa’s extraordinariness. A Critical Choice The persecution of Falun Gong practitioners was especially virulent in 2002. Julia was very upset, and her heart ached to see so many practitioners suffering yet many Chinese people remaining indifferent or even assisting the Chinese regime with its evildoing. She felt the urge to tell the world what was happening in China. After consulting with Leon, Julia began to do the Falun Gong exercises outside the Chinese Consulate in Houston after work every day. A few weeks later, Julia asked if Leon could take early retirement so he could join her to spread the word of the persecution to consulate customers, especially Chinese people. Leon was taken aback by his wife’s proposal. After all, he was just one year shy of regular retirement age. If he retired early, he would lose one year’s pay and his monthly retirement benefits would be reduced by 25%. Other housewives all wanted their husbands to work as long as possible so as to maximize their monthly retirement benefits. What kind of wife would ask her husband to take early retirement? Julia explained to Leon about the brutal treatment of practitioners in China, and he immediately felt their pain and greatly admired their courage in standing up for their belief. He knew it was his responsibility to do whatever he could to stop the persecution. When Leon submitted his early retirement application, top management were all taken aback because company policy stipulated that no early retirement was allowed for management positions except under specific circumstances. Interestingly, the company somehow soon put forward a new policy of early retirement, and Leon got his application approved without incident. Several months later he ran into his boss while passing out flyers in public. His boss finally understood his choice. Originally from Minghui.net. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. 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