MONTEZUMA — The faces are staring right at you. They are soldiers, soldiers that you don't know with stories of their service in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The "100 Faces of War" exhibit at the Stauth Memorial Museum in Montezuma features oil paintings by Matt Mitchell of 100 soldiers that represent a cross section of the United States, military branches and backgrounds. It took Mitchell nine years to complete the portraits.

The portraits are powerful and catch the soul of the soldiers.

Raechelle Butler, assistant to the director at Stauth Memorial Museum, said the eyes in each portrait were especially powerful.

"Almost everyone that comes in comments about the eyes," Butler said.

The exhibit gets an emotional response from the visitors.

"Once they come in and read the stories, they say it's impactful and powerful," Butler said.

Because there are 100 paintings and stories to read, visitors will have to spend some time if they want to experience them all.

This unique display is coming to an end on Saturday, June 22, so time is running out to take advantage of this unique experience.

Accompanying each painting is a candid, unedited, firsthand account of the war. Using emails, letters from loved ones and poems and statements specifically for this exhibit, each display tells the unique story of each veteran.

The genesis of this project started from a story in a local newspaper about an Iraq veteran returning home. Mitchell saw the story and although he had no connection to the military, felt compelled to contact veterans and tell their story in a personal way. He started painting portraits and collecting stories. Now, those portraits and stories are making their way across the U.S. and tell 100 stories of valor, sacrifice and the human experience of war.

Through these 100 portraits and stories, visitors will better understand the veterans courage, fears, warmth and humanity.

More than 2 million Americans served in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001 through 2014.

The exhibition was organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The SITES program has shared Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of Americans outside Washington D.C. for 65 years. These events show the country's culture heritage through exhibitions of art, science and history. The exhibits are shown where people live, work or play. Tour information for SITES is available at

For more information on this or other events at the Stauth Museum, contact 620-846-2527 or

The Stauth Memorial Museum is at 111 North Aztec Street in Montezuma. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.

The next exhibit at the museum is "America's Road, The Journey of Route 66" that will open July 9. The exhibit tells the history of this famous road that cuts across the U.S., the people and events that happen along the road, the history of automobile and much more will be on display in this look at Route 66 from 1926 to today. A 1965 Mustang will be part of this exhibit, Butler said.

Museum director Kim Legleiter tries to select a variety of topics for exhibition. She presents exhibit choices to the board of directors who make the final choice.