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In fall 2008, Western Nevada College sociology professor Don Carlson was stopped in his tracks by The New York Times' Roster of the Dead. "Four thousand faces of American military who had perished in Iraq stared at me," he said, "and I realized that this war has been perhaps one of the most impersonal wars ever fought."
He approached English professor Marilee Swirczek and they envisioned an art/humanities exhibition that would personalize the wars--Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom--through poems, prose and photographs. English instructor and retired Marine Major Kevin Burns selected the name for the exhibition from an observation by American writer Gertrude Stein: "War is never fatal but always lost. Always lost."
The heart of Always Lost is the Wall of the Dead: individual photographs with names of the more than 6,500 U.S. military war casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001. The Always Lost project team is committed to keeping the Wall of the Dead current in honor of those who gave their lives and those who made it home.
Always Lost includes the 2004 Pulitzer Prize-winning Iraq War combat photographs by David Leeson and Cheryl Diaz Meyer (courtesy of The Dallas Morning News) with literary work by Professor Swirczek's creative writing classes, veterans and their families, the Lone Mountain Writers group, and other Northern Nevada writers. Three Western Nevada College student-veterans are profiled through photographs and interviews to represent the thousands of men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The story and poetry of SPC Noah Pierce, who took his own life after serving two tours in Iraq, represent the thousands of veteran suicides.
Installed at Western Nevada College, Carson City in spring 2009, the original exhibition generated an overwhelming response. One guest book comment read, "A national treasure." By word-of-mouth, the story of Always Lost began to spread, and inquiries came from across the country. The Nevada Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts, awarded WNC a grant to support the project and reformat it as a traveling exhibition. Always Lost made its national debut at the University of Wisconsin, Marinette in the fall of 2010 and continues to tour colleges, universities, and veterans organizations throughout the United States.
In spring 2011, U.S. Senators Harry Reid and Dean Heller jointly expressed support of the project and their hope that the exhibition might one day travel to Washington D.C. A generous donation by the Carson Nugget/Community First initiative made it possible to create a second copy of Always Lost, which is also traveling throughout our nation.
In 2012, Always Lost was recognized by the Daughters of the American Revolution, John C. Fremont Chapter, with their Medal of Honor.
The Nevada Department of Veterans Services is sponsoring a 2-year Nevada tour (2014-2016) of Always Lost as part of the official Nevada Sesquicentennial celebrating 150 years of statehood. The exhibition is also on a 15-month tour of Minnesota (concluding in September 2015) sponsored by the Minnesota Humanities Center as part of their statewide Veterans' Voices initiative.
By summer 2015, Always Lost will have been displayed in 39 communities across the nation. Always Lost organizers anticipate that the exhibition will be installed at nearly 50 venues by the end of 2016.
Always Lost has evolved into a powerful meditation on the effect of war on each of us. It has become a sacred space in which to contemplate the personal costs and collective sacrifice of these particular conflicts, and consequently, of all wars. In the meantime, casualties continue to mount, and the Wall of the Dead continues to grow.
Always Lost: A Meditation on War is funded and maintained in part by grants and donations. To make a financial contribution, contact the Western Nevada College Foundation at 775.445.3240 or www.wnc.edu/foundation.
For more information or to request the exhibition, please contact Project Manager Amy Roby at 775.445.4243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friends of the Project:
|Latest News: Date||Title||Photo|
|June 4, 2015||“Always Lost: A Meditation on War”
WNC’s Acclaimed Exhibition on War Finishing Tour
|October 2, 2014||Mayor Delivers Proclamation of Appreciation and Honor
City Supervisors Recognize 'Always Lost'
|August 22, 2014||Showing at Historic Minden Inn Aug. 25-Sept. 12
WNC’s ‘Always Lost’ Exhibition on War Returns to Area
|June 26, 2014||Always Lost Continues to Touch America|
|June 12, 2014||WNC's Tribute to Iraq and Afghanistan War Dead
"Always Lost" Exhibition Draws Interest from San Francisco Area Media
|April 3, 2014||'Always Lost' Adds California to Tour|
|January 23, 2014||"Always Lost" Exhibit Makes 18th Tour|
|September 4, 2013||'Always Lost' Completes its 16th Tour|
|April 17, 2013||Always Lost Legislature dedication|
|April 17, 2013||Mayor comments on dedication|
|March 1, 2013||Project Impresses Veterans Groups
‘ALWAYS LOST’ Exhibition
|January 31, 2013||The Tribute Will Continue to Tour
Tribute to War Casualties Continues Tour
|January 15, 2013||Milwaukee Media Covers the Exhibit
Mount Mary College Hosts Always Lost
|For additional information, please contact:|
|Always Lost: A Meditation on War
Western Nevada College
Aspen Building 222
2201 West College Parkway
Carson City, NV 89703