Central MN artist's homage to Coast Guard added to Veteran's Cemetery


Little Falls is a long way from either coast. But it's now home to an 8' x 10' painting paying tribute to the Coast Guard.

More specifically, the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery north of Little Falls is the recipient of the newest work by local artist Charles Kapsner.

A dedication ceremony on Saturday will celebrate completion of the third in a series of five paintings honoring each of the U.S. military branches.


Kapsner has spent years on the project, which dates back to 2009 when he was commissioned by the State Veterans Cemetery Memorial Association.

Kapsner chronicled the painting's progress here and provides some artist's notes here.

It now hangs in the cemetery's Committal Hall, alongside Kapsner's works depicting the Army (which was installed in 2011) and the Navy (from 2014).

Bill Osberg, who serves on the project's steering committee, tells MPR News the paintings help instill a sense of honor among those grieving at ceremonies before a veteran is buried in the cemetery.

"I've seen it first hand," Osberg said. "The honor showing in those paintings kind of helps the family realize that particular person was instrumental in preserving our freedom."

Details in the paintings have symbolic meaning. For example, the Coast Guard is the only military branch with environmental protection as part of its mission. That's why a seagull, polar bear, and whale appear in the painting.

Alexander Hamilton, who founded what would later become the Coast Guard back in 1790, makes an appearance as well.

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The Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery is alongside Camp Ripley, about seven miles north of Little Falls in Morrison County.

It opened in 1994 and is now the resting place for more than 1,500 veterans and their family members.

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