Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

New Legion mural honors veterans across time and service


January 11, 2018

Merrick Bochart's latest mural strays from the landscapes she typically creates. She wanted to depict the "human side" of military service members. Natalie Helms photo.

Artist Merrick Bochart said she wanted to represent "the human side" of servicemen and women and veterans in the new mural on the north wall of the American Legion Post 12 Hall.

The 16-by-8- foot mural depicts 11 men and women from every branch of the service in different wars throughout American history.

"Soldiers are represented as polished, almost superheroes, and what I really wanted to try to represent is common men and women and to show their more human side," Bochart said.

Bochart said she was commissioned last spring to do the piece, and worked with Chuck Mitman as a liaison for the American Legion.

"This mural's purpose is to honor veterans of the valley and instill patriotism in our community," Mitman said. There are about 300 veterans in the Chilkat Valley, which is about 15 percent of the population.

Bochart said she didn't have a lot of experience with or knowledge of the military before starting the project. The Legion mural is a departure from her previous public murals, featured on the sides of the Gateway and Haines Quick Shop buildings and on the newspaper building at Third Avenue and Main Street, as she prominently portrayed people instead of landscape or animals.

"I felt like I really needed to do my homework. I had to do research to understand the different branches and what part they played in each war, and to find the right uniforms and faces that would work," she said. "I became a little more sensitive to the veteran experience through the whole process and it was really an honor to represent veterans in our community."

Bochart said several of the faces are friends or family of Haines residents, while others aren't connected to Alaska.

"I wanted to represent the huge variety of people that have fought for America," she said. She mentioned in particular how she purposefully included a woman and a black man.

From left to right, the mural depicts: a World War I "Buffalo Soldier"; an Indian War Choctaw code-talker; a World War I Marine; a World War II Airforce airman; a Korean War Army National Guard soldier; a Vietnam War Naval seaman; a Coast Guard soldier circa 1970; an Afghanistan and Iraq War Army soldier; a World War II Alaska Territorial Guard soldier from the Battle of Attu Island; and a Spanish American War "Rough-Rider."

Bochart said she sketched a proposal by midsummer and painted from October through December. The American Legion Post 12, Chilkat Valley Community Foundation and the Alaska Arts Confluence funded the piece. Joey Jacobson helped Bochart create the frame for the mural, which was hung early this month on Dalton Street.


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