Veterans Educational Historic Monument

A Little History, and a Little of What’s Next

STARTED IN 2009, ten years later and the Monument is complete with the final painting of the Air Force installed in fall 2019! And really, this website isn’t updated as it once was–that’s because the best place to learn about the paintings is to visit them at the Committal Hall at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery north of Little Falls, MN. But yes, COVID-19 has impacted visits, but you can still peek into the hall from the outside doors. But the website pages do tell a lot of the story about the models, stories and more.

SO, JUST WHAT DO THE PAINTINGS MEAN? That is a question that comes up quite often.  As way of explanation, Learn About What the Paintings Mean.

HOW DID IT START? This monument was conceived of by a group of Veterans to create five 8 X 10 foot oil paintings—depicting each of the five branches of the US military and installed in the Committal Hall of the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery north of Little Falls, MN. In the fall of 2009, it began with the vision of Gordon Gerling†, in his own words:

WHAT’S IT ABOUT? Unique to this monument is that each painting visually conveys the history and stories of the men and women of each branch. There is nothing else like these. Each painting created used live models who come to the artist’s studio, pose in period military uniforms, and incorporated historical elements. Each took approximately 12-18 months from beginning to end to complete. They are about the Veterans who serve our country. It is their story. Beyond being a memorial to our nation’s military men and women, the paintings are educational tools to help future generations understand our history and the vital role our military plays in maintaining our freedom and democracy. You can hear firsthand from Navy Veteran Ray Stumpf† who modeled for the project in the video “The artist and the veteran.” 

TIMELINE: The Army painting was installed in November, 2011; the Navy painting installed Memorial weekend, 2014. The Coast Guard unveiling was February, 2016 and featured on Lakeland Public Television’s Community Spotlight. The Marines Corps painting was dedicated on May 26, 2018. The Air Force painting was installed in September 2019.

HOW WAS IT FUNDED? The Monument relied entirely on tax-deductible donations from individuals, corporations, foundations and veterans organizations.  An amazing volunteer fundraising committee spent countless hours raising the funds, which range from $1 to $50,000, from over 800 donors who brought this monument to life.  Donations of $1,000 or more to the paintings are recognized on a “memorial wall” located outside the Committal Hall.

WHAT’S NEXT? An interactive kiosk is being installed at the St. Cloud Civic Center that dives deeper into the stories and the Monument.