STARTED IN 2009, ten years and four paintings later and the Monument is nearly complete! Four are installed: Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps, with the Air Force slated for installation in fall 2019. One question that comes up is: “What do all of the paintings mean?” 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 uses live models who come to the artist’s studio, pose in period military uniforms, and incorporates historical elements. Each takes 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 will be 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. The fundraising is complete. Donations of $1,000 or more to the paintings will be recognized on a “memorial wall”.
WILL THERE BE A CELEBRATION FOR THE FINAL PAINTING? YES! The final painting will be installed in September, 2019 with a public unveiling on Sunday, September 15th at NOON. We are partnering with Camp Ripley and the Minnesota National Guard (Camp is adjacent to the Cemetery) as they will be hosting their Open House and Community Appreciation Day. MORE DETAILS WILL BE FORTHCOMING!