The WNC arts and humanities exhibition “Always Lost: A Meditation on War” is now showing at its eighteenth national venue. It is on display in the Library Gallery at Mesabi Range Community & Technical College in Virginia, MN through March 21.
In addition to the Wall of the Dead, which depicts the faces and names of all U.S. military war casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001, the exhibition features Pulitzer Prize-winning combat photography (courtesy of The Dallas Morning News) and literary work by northern Nevada writers that honors and illustrates the sacrifices of those who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
â€œItâ€™s a powerful experience that is authentic and meaningful,â€ said MRCTC Dean of Student Affairs David Dailey. â€œI donâ€™t know if anyone who walks in walks out feeling the same way about what vets did for us.â€
Dailey learned of the exhibit from Minnesota resident Cheryl Softich, mother of Army SPC Noah Pierce, who took his own life after serving two tours in Iraq. Pierceâ€™s poetry about his combat experiences and his personal story are featured in the exhibition.
â€œAs we spoke, she told me how powerful the exhibit is,â€ Dailey said. â€œMoreover, how meaningful it would be to her, and her sonâ€™s memory, if Mesabi Range College could exhibit this work.â€
Dailey himself is the son of a wounded veteran. While emotionally invested in the project for personal reasons, Dailey said the display puts a face and a name to the casualties of war and will surely affect everyone who views it, including students, veterans and the public.
Always Lost â€œtakes up the entire galleryâ€ at the Virginia campus, Dailey said. Mesabi Range is the first college in Minnesota to host the exhibition and they are â€œtruly humbled in our efforts to pay tribute to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.â€
A grand opening ceremony in honor of the exhibition was held on Thursday, January 16. Barb Oâ€™Reilly, Director of Women Veteran and Employment Programs at the Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs and past commander of the 147th Personnel Services Battalion, was the featured speaker. Invites were sent to area American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts and to the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon network.
â€œItâ€™s a humbling and gratifying experience to bring the exhibit to Virginia and the Northland,â€ Dailey said. â€œIf people want to see an exhibit that is done with exceptional class and solemn pride for veterans, they are going to want to come and take a look at it.â€