Veterans Educational Historic Monument

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News, Stories + Videos

The Veterans Educational Historic Project is being administered through a partnering arrangement with the Initiative Foundation, a charitable nonprofit Foundation with headquarters in Little Falls, MN.

Marine Corps painting to be unveiled on May 26th, 2:30 PM

Little Falls, MN — On Saturday, May 26th at 2:30 PM, the public dedication and unveiling of the Marine Corps painting, the fourth of five 8 X 10 ft paintings comprising the Veterans Historic Art Monument, installed at the Committal Hall at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery north of Little Falls, MN. This painting joins three previously completed ones, Army (2011), Navy (2014) and Coast Guard (2016); each depicts the history of, and contributions by our nation’s military men and women. All are painted by Minnesota artist Charles Gilbert Kapsner.
Regional in location, but national in scope, each painting uniquely captures the spirit of each branch of service, vividly portraying the stories, faces, and sacrifices of our Nation’s servicemen and women. Veterans and active duty military serve as models, and this painting also includes a small portion of soil brought back from Mt. Suribachi, where the iconic Raising the Flag photo on Iwo Jima was taken. The artist used the small portion of soil to grind in with paint as part of the depiction of the 1945 Marine Corps flag-raising.
The dedication and ceremony program includes Veterans and active duty personnel, some of whom served as models in the painting, dignitaries, Marine Corps re-enactors, and the artist. Refreshments will follow the formal program which includes:
Brigadier General Lowell Kruse, Camp Ripley
David P. Swantek, Senior Administrator of Memorial Affairs (MDVA)
Erik B. Sogge, Cemetery Administrator (MDVA)
Veterans and active duty personnel depicted in painting: Roy T. Edwards Col. USMC (Ret.); Holly Zabinski, Major USMC; Cory Engen, Sgt. USMC (Ret.); Quintin Sam, Sgt. USMC (Ret.)
Charles Gilbert Kapsner, Artist
Greg Zylka, Mayor of Little Falls
Military Honor Guard: Valhalla Detachment, Marine Corps League, St. Cloud

LOCATION: Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery Committal Hall, 15550 Hwy 115, Little Falls, MN. 320-616-2527

Marine Corps Painting on Temporary Display at The Depot in Duluth

Painting on Display at Duluth Depot

Marine Corps painting on temporary display at the Depot in Duluth May

Marine Corps Painting on Temporary Display at The Depot

DULUTH, MN. – Veterans Memorial Hall, a program of the St. Louis County Historical Society, will unveil Minnesota artist Charles Kapsner’s Marine Corps tribute painting at the Duluth Depot. The temporary exhibition is an 8 foot by 10 foot oil painting and will include appearances by the artist. The painting will be displayed from May 17 to May 22, and Kapsner will be just outside Veterans Memorial Hall from 9am to 5pm.

This is the fourth in a series of five paintings honoring the women and men of each military branch. Regional in location, but national in scope, the paintings uniquely portray the stories, faces, and sacrifices of our nation’s servicewomen and men. Kapsner’s paintings are larger than life and well received by the families of military service veterans. Veterans and active duty military serve as models for the painting which includes soil from Mt. Suribachi which Kapsner ground into the paint as part of the depiction of the Marine flag-raising in 1945.

The artist previously created tribute paintings for the Army, Navy and Coast Guard. The last painting will pay tribute to the Air Force. All the paintings will be on permanent display in Committal Hall, Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery in Little Falls.

For artist commentary and a follow-along photo gallery visit: For more information visit the Little Falls State Veteran Cemetery Page

Jay Hagen, Veterans Memorial Hall Program Assistant
St. Louis County Historical Society
506 West Michigan Street
Duluth, MN 55802


Norwegian Home Guard Exchange 2016

Each summer, Charles hosts guests from the Norwegian Exchange (NOREX) which takes place at Camp Ripley in Little Falls. As has  become tradition, the senior officer sits for an official drawing. This year, Ltd. Colonel Per Olav Vaagland joined Kapsner at his studio and enjoyed a great visit. In years’ past, Lt. Col. Ingvar Seland (2015) and Colonel Rolf  Wold (2014) had their portraits done. As part of the visit, gifts are exchanged, and each Colonel receives his portrait sketch.




Memorial Day 2016

A perfect day awaited those who attended. Erik Sogge, Cemetery Administrator provided a welcome. Bill Osberg, U.S. Navy Veteran and member of the Mn. State Veterans Cemetery Memorial Association, served as the Master of Ceremonies, taking over from Jack Peck who served in the role for many years. Joseph Schirmers provided the invocation, and lovely music was provided by the Richfield Symphonic Band and the St. Francis Community Chorale. The memorial address was provided by Colonel Scott St. Sauver, Post Commander, Camp Ripley. The day truly honored the men and women of all branches of the military. Afterwards, everyone was invited to the Committal Hall to view the three completed paintings, with many taking part, asking questions, and pondering the paintings.


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Momentum has built, as has interest. Here are several videos that capture the initial ideas, things along the way, and recent unveilings.

Coast Guard reflections

Coast Guard unveiling February 6, 2016

Kapsner presentation at Marco event Oct 2014

Artist Charles Kapsner’s Presentation to the VFW Convention, Reno, Nevada

In Focus Artist Charles Kapsner – Lakeland News at Ten – July 27, 2012

Common Ground Episode 327 – First Air Date April 12, 2012

Common Ground Episode 328 – First Air Date April 19, 2012

Radio and Print Media

Saint Cloud lends support to military art project

Minn. painter’s mission is to honor U.S. military history

Coast Guard painting in place, awaiting formal installation ceremony

Coast Guard Tribute

Painting on display

Military Mural to have exclusive viewing in Duluth

Little Falls artist painting 5 works for Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery

The Oddly Wrapped Gift – Brainerd Dispatch March 10, 2013

Little Falls artist’s painting for veterans cemetery unites unlikely pair – Star Tribune March 2, 2013

Coast Guard painting installed. On February 6th, 2016, the Coast Guard painting was permanently installed at the Committal Hall. There was a formal program and a reception at the Little Falls American Legion. The project will be 3/5 of the way completed–with huge thanks to ALL who continue to believe in, and see the impact of this project! This is the finished painting and a story from the 1/29/16 Brainerd Dispatch .

© Charles Kapsner 20160118

© Charles Kapsner 20160118

Painting on the move! On Memorial Day, the Coast Guard painting was on display for everyone to get a sense of its progress. As you can see, it’s very hands on–with Cemetery Director David Swantek and his crew an integral part of the painting’s safe passage. Thanks to Falls Furniture for loaning us the truck to get the painting back and forth.


Norwegian Exchange: Each summer, Charles hosts guests from the Norwegian Exchange (NOREX) which takes place at Camp Ripley in Little Falls. As part of the exchange, senior officers, including Lt. Col. Ingvar Seland (2015) and Colonel Rolf  Wold (2014) visited Kapsner’s studio. As part of the visit, gifts were exchanged, and each Colonel receives a portrait sketch, as done by Charles, which includes a “live” sitting.
Portrait sketch at the studio

Lt. Col. Ingvar Seland sitting for his portrait.

A Visit from Lt. Colonel Ingvar Seland The American-Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange, also called NOREX celebrated its 42nd year during February. Camp Ripley Commander Col. Scott St. Sauver and Norwegian Lt. Col. Ingvar Seland are the senior officers in charge of the program. Kapsner hosted several of the Norwegian troops at his studio, and Lt. Colonel Seland posed for Kapsner for a portrait sketch. Kapsner is always honored to be able to host the delegates at his studio, as well as share in terrific conversation.



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