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Minnesota native's tribute keeps memory of fallen Marine unit vibrant

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A Minnesota artist transplanted to Ohio was so overcome by the sacrifices of a valiant military company in her adopted state, she preserved each of the 23 fallen Marines on canvas.

Now, a decade after the members of Lima Company were killed by roadside bombs in Iraq, their likenesses are touring Minnesota.

"Lima Company Memorial: The Eyes of Freedom" opened at the Arden Hills National Guard Armory Wednesday on the second of three Minnesota stops, the memorial's Facebook page says.

The memorial is an 8-panel life-sized installation that pays tribute to the nearly two dozen members of Lima Company Marine reserve unit who were killed within a couple months of each other on Iraqi roads in 2005.

Lakeville native Anita Miller was living in Columbus, Ohio, at the time and tells KARE 11: "My heart cracked open in a way it had never cracked."

Miller tells KARE she had no connection to the military at the time, but as a mother was hit hard by the loss of the Marines and expressed it through painting.

According to the memorial's website, a vision of the completed memorial standing in the Ohio Statehouse came to Miller in a dream and she spent the next two and a half years making it a reality.

Now the memorial travels the country under the watch of Cpl. Mike Strahle, who served alongside the men depicted.

Earlier this month it was in Sandstone, where WDIO visited.

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After its stay in Arden Hills ends on Sunday, the memorial is scheduled to be at Black Bear Casino in Carlton from May 6 through 10.

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