The Eyes of Freedom: Traveling exhibit, honoring those who have served, coming to Rockwell

  • Posted: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 12:01 a.m.
    UPDATED: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 12:10 a.m.
(Submitted photo)  Veterans take a look at tractor-trailer that carries The Eyes of Freedom exhibit from place to place.
(Submitted photo) Veterans take a look at tractor-trailer that carries The Eyes of Freedom exhibit from place to place.

ROCKWELL — “The Eyes of Freedom” traveling exhibit, dedicated to the men and women who have served, fought and died for the United States in every branch of the armed forces, will make a two-day stop in Rowan County in early October.

The Eyes of Freedom

What: A memorial traveling exhibit depicting the fallen Marines of Lima Company, as painted by artist Anita Miller. Serves as a remembrance for all who have served in all branches of the military.

When: 1 p.m. opening ceremony, Oct. 6; exhibit open from 2-7 p.m. Oct. 6; 9 a.m.-noon Oct. 7; and 2-7 p.m. Oct. 7

Where: Powles Funeral Home, 913 W. Main St., Rockwell.

Admission: Free.

For more information: Contact event hosts Will and Matt Staton of Powles Funeral Home at 704-279-7241, or

Powles Funeral Home of Rockwell is sponsor for the exhibit, which will be open to the public at no charge the afternoon of Sunday, Oct. 6, and the morning and afternoon of Monday, Oct. 7.

Rockwell will be one of only two stops of the exhibit in the state of North Carolina.

“It’s a very moving experience to see,” said Doug Bare, a funeral director at Powles. “It’s so lifelike it’s unbelievable. It really shows the sacrifice those guys gave.”

Bare and Russ Roakes, another funeral director at Powles, are encouraging individuals, veterans and groups from churches, schools and civic clubs to attend the self-guided exhibit.

“It’s an amazing event to come and see,” Roakes said.

The Eyes of Freedom consists of eight large panels and life-sized portraits of 22 Marines and a Navy corpsman who belonged to the Lima Company of Ohio, 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment.

They lost their lives during the war in Iraq in actions between May and September 2005. Lima Company, based out of Columbus, Ohio, was a rifle company comprised mainly of young Marine Reservists, who had been called to active duty in January 2005.

The losses in Lima Company hit residents of Columbus and Ohio hard. Artist Anita Miller, working with the surviving families, painted the panels, which were unveiled in the Columbus statehouse in 2008 and remained there for six months.

Miller has said she awoke in the middle of the night, not long after a roadside explosion in Iraq killed 14 members of the Lima Company, with a vision for the exhibit and its standing in the statehouse rotunda.

Miller worked on the paintings for two-and-a-half years, and a non-profit organization, the Lima Company Memorial, was created to support her work.

After the display at the Ohio statehouse, the paintings went on a tour of other museums and events. The Eyes of Freedom now travels the country, transported in a tractor-trailer furnished by R+L Carriers of Wilmington

Mike Strahle, a Marine who fought alongside the men of Lima Company, has taken over from Miller in overseeing the exhibit.

“Everyone’s welcome,” Bare stressed of the two days in October.

An opening ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. Oct. 6 and will include the Rowan County Veterans Honor Guard.

The Eyes of Freedom then will be open from 2-7 p.m. Oct. 6; from 9 a.m.-noon Oct. 7; and 2-7 p.m. Oct. 7.

Patriot Guard Riders will meet the tractor-trailer carrying the exhibit’s panel at the Salisbury Mall the morning of Oct. 6 and escort the memorial from there to Rockwell.

Roakes said the escort plans to leave the mall parking lot at 10:30 a.m., proceed down Statesville Boulevard and pass through the heart of downtown Salisbury on it way to Rockwell, in case anyone wanted to see the procession that morning.

The exhibit’s panels measure 6-by-9 feet.

Weathering permitting, the opening ceremony will be held outside, but the exhibit itself will be in the funeral home’s chapel.

While The Eyes of Freedom depicts the fallen of Lima Company, it is meant to honor all the people who have answered the call to service in the military.

“We’re proud to bring this to Rockwell,” Roakes said.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

Notice about comments: is pleased to offer readers the ability to comment on stories. We expect our readers to engage in lively, yet civil discourse. cannot promise that readers will not occasionally find offensive or inaccurate comments posted in the comments area. Responsibility for the statements posted lies with the person submitting the comment, not If you find a comment that is objectionable, please click "report abuse" and we will review it for possible removal. Please be reminded, however, that in accordance with our Terms of Use and federal law, we are under no obligation to remove any third party comments posted on our website. Full terms and conditions can be read here.

Do not post the following:

  • Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
  • Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
  • Personal attacks, insults or threats.
  • The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
  • Comments unrelated to the story.