Nolan supports Historic Veterans Art Project

Congressman says he will make the extra effort to help

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor

Cong. Rick Nolan, who represents the 8th District, was in the Little Falls area March 9. Before stopping at the Central Minnesota Ethanol Plant, Tri-City Paving and Bowlus, and then to the Twin Cities for a grandson’s basketball game, he visited the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery. There, he learned about the Historic Veterans Art Project, being brought to life in paintings by artist Charles Kapsner, showcasing the history of the branches of the U.S. military. Pictured as Kapsner explained the Navy painting, are (from left): Navy veteran Howard Warnberg, Kapsner; Vietnam veteran Don Dallman, who is past state commander of the VFW and Nolan.

Cong. Rick Nolan, who represents the 8th District, was in the Little Falls area March 9. Before stopping at the Central Minnesota Ethanol Plant, Tri-City Paving and Bowlus, and then to the Twin Cities for a grandson’s basketball game, he visited the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery. There, he learned about the Historic Veterans Art Project, being brought to life in paintings by artist Charles Kapsner, showcasing the history of the branches of the U.S. military. Pictured as Kapsner explained the Navy painting, are (from left): Navy veteran Howard Warnberg, Kapsner; Vietnam veteran Don Dallman, who is past state commander of the VFW and Nolan.

The second of five paintings in the Historic Veterans Art Project, that of the Navy, is nearing completion. So far, about $170,000 has been raised for the project, estimated to cost about $495,000.

The project centers on the history of the five branches of the military — the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard — each captured on an 8-foot by 10-foot canvas, by artist Charles G. Kapsner of Little Falls.

Kapsner, along with the committee, has spent countless hours explaining the project meant to tell the story of the five branches of the U.S. military, offering honor to U.S. veterans and education to young people.

The Historic Veterans Art Project Committee originally planned for the project to be fully-funded by veterans and veterans organizations.

However, when DFL Cong. Rick Nolan, who represents the 8th Congressional District, visited the Committal Hall at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery March 9, the group asked for whatever help he could offer.

Nolan, who caught his first glimpse of the project when the Army painting had just been completed and was on display in Duluth in 2011, said he would help in any way he could.

“Anything to help our veterans and to given back in some way commensurate with  what they have given and have offered to give by simply being in the service and standing up and defending our country,” said Nolan. “And to go wherever they are asked and wherever it is necessary and required for them to go.”

So many, he said, made the ultimate sacrifice. “Quite frankly, their patriotism has been abused and they were sent to places where they didn’t need to go,” he said. “But that’s another story and no reflection on their service, patriotism and commitment to this country.”

Nolan said his old friend, Gordon Gerling, who was once a state representative for Morrison County, called on him for help. The project is Gerling’s brainchild.

Looking at the completed painting of the history of the Army now on display at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery, Nolan said, “How important and an integral part it is, and will continue to be, at the cemetery here.

“I offer my help and my support for anything and everything I can do to ensure the success of this project going forward,” he said.

When Nolan asked what kind of funding was needed, Greg Zylka, a member of the committee, said Gerling had initially suggested $50,000. But, after thought, the committee had hoped to get one of the five paintings funded — “About $97,500.58,” Zylka said.

Nolan said when people see the project they will say, “‘Wow,  our veterans are important.’ And that’s what this is all about,” he said.

“Not only is it just the kind of thing that is visually pleasant at a moment in time, it carries a much larger statement that people go away with,” he said. “It affects their attitude as it relates to the defense of our country, the men and women that served and the respect given to them for their service.”

Nolan said he and his staff would make the calls and the visits to get support for the project.

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