VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- A local tribute to the U.S. military is being painted over in Virginia Beach.

The mural, 'Great America Number 1- A Tribute to American Heroes' was painted in 2002 by local artist Sam Welty on the wall of the former Flagship Inn.

Welty said he was shocked to see the changes Sunday morning.

"About three quarters of the mural is gone now," said Welty.

The artist said he started the mural on the first anniversary of the September 11th attacks.

As time went on, new management came. The building is now a Howard Johnson Hotel.

He said owners told him to fix minor damages, but was never able to get a hold of them.

"I would come by and they weren't available. And nothing ever came of it. I never heard anything about it," said Welty. "That was six months ago."

Welty said he hopes management can find a way to compromise. The Virginia Beach mural is part of a nationwide series of paintings.

"I don't have any kids. THIS is my kid," Welty said. "This is what I have, this is the thing that I do on Earth."

Sam Welty recorded a Facebook Live conveying what went into creating the painting.

Welty said he painted the mural as a tribute to the men and women who serve in our armed forces.

PHOTOS: Local military mural being painted over in Virginia Beach