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Lego exhibits sit on display during BrickFair at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Virginia, Aug. 4, 2023. Sherry Harris created her first original Lego creation for exhibition in 2022, creating a Marine with the likeness of her son, U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Hunter S. Upson, an intelligence specialist with 2nd Marine Division. This year, she created a 28,160-piece Lego mosaic Eagle, Globe, and Anchor.(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Kayla LeClaire)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Kayla M. LeClaire

Building Inspiration brick by brick; Marine mom honors son's service through Lego creations

20 Oct 2023 | Lance Cpl. Kayla LeClaire Marine Corps Base Quantico

Recall the toys you played with as a child- were they dolls, blocks, or trucks? Looking back on these memories can evoke a strong sense of nostalgia. This same nostalgia was ignited for many as they stepped through the doors of the Dulles Expo Center to see BrickFair, an eastern United States Lego fan expo and convention. The Lego exhibits towered above the spectators, bringing a sense of wonder to all attending. Iconic movies, beloved TV shows and popular books were brought to life through displays that moved, shimmered with lights or played music. Amidst the many displays stood the iconic Marine Corps Eagle, Globe, and Anchor.

For Lego exhibitors like Sherry Harris, a native of Jasper, Georgia, conventions are a great way to show off their creativity and building skills, but her Marine Corps EGA is more than that - it is a tribute to her son, currently serving on active duty in the Marine Corps.

“The way I look at it is, if my son had gone to the University of Virginia, I would be wearing college gear. I'd have the sticker on the back of the car that says you know, ‘UVA parent’ or something like that,” Sherry said with a laugh, “But my son entered the Marine Corps straight out of high school and I'm very proud of the decision he made.”

Sherry had visited Lego conventions with her husband in the past and built Lego kits for fun at home, but 2022 was her first year participating as an exhibitor. She redesigned a Lego Harry Potter figure to look like her son, U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Hunter S. Upson, an intelligence specialist with 2nd Marine Division. She took the base of the figure and modified it to look like a Marine in a Dress Blues uniform, complete with a blood stripe and ribbons.

“Last year, when I decided to build something, I had no idea what to do...” Sherry stated with a shrug, “So, I decided to do something Marine Corps related and that's when my husband suggested modifying the Harry Potter Maxi Figure to be a Marine. It's um, that was it because I'm just I'm proud of my kid.”

This year, she brought a new Marine Corps inspired creation with her to the 2023 BrickFair at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Virginia. She built a 28,160-piece Lego mosaic Eagle, Globe, and Anchor that took about 60 hours and cost around $1,700. The 55-inch mosaic shines under the florescent lights, each tiny dot showing extreme attention to detail.

“I think it’s really cool, it’s a way she shows her support and it means a lot to me,” said her son Hunter, “Most parents will wear shirts or have bumper stickers to show support, but my mom has never been average!”

Sherry served four and a half years in the Air Force, but said she always had a great respect for Marines, and that she particularly admired their discipline and focus. This was easy to see when she talked about her son and his service as her face beamed with pride.

“When you step off the bus at Air Force boot camp, they call you airman. When you step off it for the Army, you're a soldier. You are not with the Marine Corps,” Sherry articulated, “You earn that right. And it has always been something that has made me very proud for my son to go in so young and pass all the tests; mental, physical, emotional, and become a Marine.”

Sherry plans to continue the military theme in her future builds, starting with a tribute to her own service in the Air Force and continuing through all the branches.

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