Unspoken Heroes

Two Worlds, One Heart

This piece of art conveys the ways of Russ Kolkay’s heart: love and the military. The darker part of the painting shows the hardest part of being a drill sergeant that he faced. The lighter side shows the many love letters he wrote during his time in the military.

Meet the Veteran

Russ Kolkay grew up in Aurora, Illinois with his mother, father, and younger brother. He went to the University of Illinois, but didn’t finish his college degree due to signing up for the army reserves. He had a chance of getting drafted for the army. Instead of getting drafted, he decided to enlist. He joined the army reserves and started basic combat training in Fort Polk, Louisiana. He worked hard to become a drill sergeant. He was a drill sergeant for six years. He came back to Aurora, Illinois and is currently volunteering at the First Division Museum.

Student-created art exhibit highlighting veteran stories

Seventh grade students at Carleton W. Washburne Middle School in Winnetka turned oral histories into works of art. Forty-five students worked in groups of 4 to research and interview 11 veterans, most of whom are Cantigny Park staff members or volunteers. The art in this exhibit is inspired by these interviews.

First Division Museum Program and Exhibit staff worked with students to turn their projects into a museum exhibit with a theme, labels, title, and a gallery guide. It is currently online until we can welcome visitors back to the First Division Museum to see it in person.