Carson City government officials recognized Western Nevada College’s nationally known humanities exhibition on the costs of war, “Always Lost: A Meditation on War,” Thursday with a proclamation of appreciation and honor.
Carson City Mayor Robert Crowell, a Vietnam veteran, has called the exhibit “our community’s gift to the nation.”
A proclamation honoring the creators and contributors of “Always Lost” was presented to Western Nevada College President Chester Burton and Professors Emeritus Don Carlson and Marilee Swirczek during the Board of Supervisors meeting.
“’Always Lost: A Meditation on War’ is a stunning and thought-provoking exhibit that has captured the attention of not only our community, but many other communities throughout our state and indeed the nation,” Crowell said. “In delivering this proclamation, the Board of Supervisors is expressing the gratitude of our community for not only the creativity of this exhibit but its relevance to matters that should never be forgotten in our collective psyche.”
In its fifth year of touring the nation, “Always Lost” has been displayed at universities, colleges, museums, libraries, art galleries, conference centers and veterans organizations throughout the country. One copy of the exhibition is on an extended tour of the state of Minnesota, sponsored by the Minnesota Humanities Center. It is currently on display at the Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Fergus Falls. It will also be shown at Carleton College in Northfield, Oct. 13-25; Southwest Veterans Association in Marshall, from Nov. 3-17; and Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Nov. 3-Dec. 8.
A second copy of the exhibit, made possible by a donation from the Carson Nugget/Community First initiative, is currently on a two-year Nevada Sesquicentennial tour to commemorate Nevada’s 150th year of statehood. “Always Lost” was selected as an official NV150 exhibit by the NV150 Sesquicentennial Commission; the Nevada statewide tour is being sponsored by the Nevada Department of Veterans Services.
It is currently being shown at the Nevada State Museum in Las Vegas, through October 27. From there it will travel north to show at Great Basin College in Elko from November 12-26.
Some of the planned exhibitions for 2015 include the Nevada Legislative Building in Carson City, Churchill County Museum in Fallon, Patrick Heath Public Library in Boerne, Texas, and the Veterans in Pfizer in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Swirczek said, “We are so grateful to Mayor Crowell and to the Board of Supervisors for their recognition of this project, which began in a classroom right here in our hometown and is now sharing its message of awareness and unity with communities across the nation.”
The primary feature of the gripping exhibit is the Wall of the Dead, which includes the names and photographs of more than 6,700 Americans who have died during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. The exhibit also includes 2004 Pulitzer Prize-winning combat photographs, courtesy of The Dallas Morning News, as well as literary work from Professor Swirczek’s 2009 creative writing classes at WNC, veterans and their families, Lone Mountain Writer group members, and other contributors.
Other honors the exhibit has garnered since it began touring in 2010 are selection by the Disabled American Veterans and Auxiliary for display at their 93rd National Convention in August 2014; the Medal of Honor from the Daughters of the American Revolution, John C. Fremont chapter in May 2012; a commendation from U.S. Senator Harry Reid on March 12, 2012, “in appreciation of your efforts to raise awareness of the combat soldier’s experience”; U.S. Sens. Reid and Dean Heller recognizing “Always Lost” as an exhibit that reminds them “of the critical link between expression and our American heritage”; a Certificate of Commendation from Reid on Sept. 27, 2011, “celebrating WNC’s and the Carson Nugget’s efforts to send the exhibit from Nevada to Washington, D.C.”; a Certificate of Senatorial Recognition from Heller on Sept. 27, 2011, recognizing “this important project honoring those who have served and lost their lives in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom”; and Brandeis University Professor Dr. Marguerite Bouvard’s inclusion of “Always Lost” in her book, “The Invisible Wounds of War: Coming Home from Iraq and Afghanistan” in a chapter dedicated to healing for veterans and their families.
Attendees of the proclamation ceremony filled the Sierra Room at the Carson City Community Center. They included U.S. Senator Dean Heller, U.S. Congressman Mark Amodei, Nevada System of Higher Education Regent Ron Knecht, and WNC Vice-President Mark Ghan, along with members of WNC’s faculty and staff, “Always Lost” team members Amy Roby and Thomas Ramirez, WNC Veterans Resource Center Supervisor and retired Marine Major Kevin Burns, along with several WNC student veterans; former Carson City Supervisor Shelly Aldean, Nevada Division of Museums and History Administrator Peter Barton, former judge Karl Neathammer, several local writers whose literary work is included in the exhibition, and numerous community members.