The Portrait of a Warrior Gallery is now open in Downtown Bakersfield.
Monday, was an emotional morning as families of Kern County military killed in combat, post 9/11 came to see their loved ones honored.
The gallery is not only a tribute to local fallen heroes, it is a demonstration of patriotism and appreciation. Volunteers have been hard at work for months with one goal: to present the gallery to the public on the eve of the 9/11 anniversary.
The gallery doors opened following a special ceremony including a fallen hero roll call and a Gold Star Family introduction.
“When they swore an oath to protect and defend the constitution of the U.S.. they made a commitment to all of us and in turn it’s our obligation to honor all of them and support their families,” said Lili Marsh, Honor Flight Kern County executive director.
The walls display portraits of 27 post 9/11 service members from Kern County who were killed in action.
“It celebrates the lives of these individuals and their noble cause of serving their country,” said Todd Stevens, California Resources Corporation president. “Now in days, so many people are content with playing video games. They [war heroes] understood what’s important.”
The gallery includes a Vietnam room paying tribute to the fallen. An additional wing holds the “22 a day” exhibit giving awareness to the veterans who take their own lives. Another room reflects the living conditions endured by those deployed to the middle east
But, that’s not all the museum provides for the visitor.
“We offer help in regards to counseling, any kind of outdoor activity,” said Chad Garcia-Mioni, Post 9/11 committee lead. “You name it, we can help you.”
The gallery is only the second of it’s kind in the united states.
“It speaks volumes about Bakersfield and their ability to be able to put the time and effort to do something like this because it’s the right thing to do,” said Stevens.
The gallery runs with the help of volunteers. To volunteer, you can stop by Monday through Sunday between 8 a.m.. and 6 p.m..