LITTLE FALLS -- One local artist has dedicated almost a decade of his life to honoring and memorializing our nation's Armed Forces.

Charles Kapsner, an artist from Little Falls has been working on the 8 by 10 foot murals for over 7 years.

He says simply researching each branch takes months of work.

"I went off and spent the next three and a half months putting the drawings together and doing research. Learning about the military, that you've got 5 different branches that are like 5 different fraternities, they've got five different cultures. So you have to do a cleansing process when you get done with each branch because you're moving into an entirely different realm of things, you also understand how they do work together."

One of Kapsner's biggest challenges was presented during the Navy mural, and representing the immense size and scope of the branch's primary responsibility.

"Here I had this massive area of water because one of the admirals I talked to about the Navy and things to think about was the expansiveness of the oceans... he said it's not until you're actually out there [on the ocean] and don't see anything for a couple months at a time that you realize how big the oceans are."

Kapsner has the Army, Navy and Coast Guard Murals done so far. He's working on the Marines and then will move on to the Air Force.

Each mural includes an important part of the branch's history, of the finished murals some of these moments and duties include:

  • Army: The Revolutionary War, Battle of Monte Cassino, the Bataan Death March and Korean War.
  • Navy: USS Constitution, Battle of Midway, Navy Divers.
  • Coast Guard: 9/11, Lighthouses, Submarine Escort.

The Marine mural, which is still in-progress will feature scenes from Vietnam, Iwo Jima, and others. The Air Force mural will be started after the Marine Corp one is finished.

Outside of being a memorial, the murals are meant as educational tools to help people and future generations understand the importance of our Armed Forces in keeping America free.

The Murals are in the Committal Hall at the State Veteran's Cemetery near Camp Ripley. The hall is open from 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday - Friday.

For more information, including donation opportunities, there's a website set up for the Murals at vetsart.org.

Photo: Richard Leguil, WJON