Three Conflicts: freedoms’ struggle through a soldier’s eyes


At the Battle of Fallujah by Joel Chaverri

A multi-media exhibit at the Ukrainian National Museum, 2249 West Superior St., tells the story of three conflicts (Korea, Vietnam and the Global War on Terror) and three generations of soldiers. All are different, yet very much the same. It will remain open through Aug. 25. 


John Steciw looks at collection of photos taken in Korea

Showing not just the images of war but the results of horrifying experiences that can not be forgotten, the exhibit includes a digital presentation,  photographs and paintings by combat veterans and photo journalists. While many of the paintings and photographs are not of or by people related to the Ukrainian neighborhood, they are war and conflict related images. 

The video portion of the exhibit is comprised of a collection of photos and bios gathered by several men who attended St. Nicholas School, 2224 W. Rice St. "It started as a little project of 'Let's not forget' and it is mushrooming and getting nicer and nicer," explains John Steciw, Commander, The American Legion  Department of Illinois, 9th District Council, 1st Division. He is spearheading this project, which is taking on a life of its own. 


Jerry Kykisz works on the installation in front of the "Conflict Zone"

"It begins with the Korean conflict in the 1950’s and goes through the war in Iraq. There are a lot of very powerful photos. One of the biggest photo contributors had many of his images printed in various publications." 

The rest of the show, curated by Jerry Kykisz, Independence Fund Board Member, has four groupings of images: PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), R&R (Rest and Relaxation), Conflict Zone and Battle of Fallujah. 

Steciw points to a grouping of paintings saying, "These paintings here are interesting because they were done by veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Jerry, the gentleman that did these paintings with the ink blots…" 


"Cave Man" by Michigan's Ron Mann


Second Rorschach like painting by Michigan vet.

"He is not a gentleman," says Kykisz. "He doesn't pretend to be.  He came from the boonies of Michigan. He came back [from war] and had a lot of problems readjusting. He was put in the VA (Veterans Administration Hospital) and given medications. They showed him ink blots [Rorschach test] and asked 'What do you see?'  He wouldn't tell them because he saw lots of stuff. 

"When I asked him how he learned to paint this way, he said, 'I saw that in the ink blots, but I couldn't tell them or they would think I was crazy.' This is how he expressed himself. Out of the hundred or so images he created, he told his story of Vietnam, how he got PTSD and how it effected him and his family. This one is 'cave man,' another is 'telling my wife I am sorry a million times.'" This vet, now in his sixties, is financially supported by disability, giving him the time to obsessively paint in Flint, MI. 


Sand almost obscures this soldier in Fallujah by Jason P. Howe

The R&R grouping includes 80 photographs dedicated to Vietnam. In three horizontal rows, the top row shows things to do, the second shows images of the trip and the lower focuses on the people of the area. These shots were by many different people.

Conflict Zone is a collection of photos, though some look like paintings, that were at one point part of a fundraiser to help a photo journalist who lost his legs on the battlefield. 

Anna Chychula

Anna Chychula, Museum Administrator, works organizing equipment behind the scenes

Battle of Fallujah photos take you to the scene where you see the faces of soldiers of all ages. 


Maria Klimchak, Museum Curator, and Steciw take a break during the exhibit's installation

"I hope people come away from the exhibit with an appreciation of what happens [in war] and what comes of it," said Steciw. 

This exhibit is dedicated to all the generations of brave men and women who served, and continue to serve, in our Armed Forces. The exhibition is sponsored by Selfreliance Ukrainian American Federal Credit Union. 

Museum Hours: Thurs. through Sun., 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission: Adults $5.00, Children under 12 are Free. Free Parking is available beside the Museum. For driving instructions, visit the Museum's website. For additional information, please call 312.421.8020 or email.  



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