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April 9, 2017
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
The MacArthur Memorial Visitors Center
198 Bank Street
Norfolk, VA 23510

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Ben Steele Collection Unveiling

Sunday, April 9, 2017

On April 9, 2017, the MacArthur Memorial will observe the 75th anniversary of the Bataan Death March and unveil the Ben Steele Collection. Ben Steele was a survivor of the Bataan Death March who spent three and a half years as a POW of the Japanese. Always interested in art, Steele created a number of drawings of his experiences as a POW over the decades. These remarkable drawings will be unveiled during this special event as we pay tribute to Ben Steele and remember the Bataan Death March.

On April 9, 2017, the MacArthur Memorial will observe the 75th anniversary of the Bataan Death March and unveil the Ben Steele Collection. As part of the unveiling, the Memorial will screen the documentary fillm Survival Through Art. Produced by Jan Thompson and narrated by Alec Baldwin, SurvivalThrough Art tells the story of Ben Steele's remarkable life. 

Ben Steele was an American soldier stationed in the Philippines at the beginning of World War II.  He spent the first months of the war fighting on the Bataan Peninsula.  When American forces on Bataan were surrendered, Steele was one of tens of thousands of American and Filipino troops forced to go on the Bataan Death March.  He would spend the next three and a half years as a POW in several labor camps, including the infamous Tayabas Road Detail.  During his captivity, he suffered from beriberi, dysentery, pneumonia, blood poisoning, and malaria.  He also survived death ships and ultimately ended the war working in a Japanese coal mine less than 80 miles from Hiroshima.  

Like many survivors, after liberation Steele struggled with memories of his captivity.  Always interested in art, when he returned to the United States he obtained a degree in art.  As he came to terms with what he had seen and experienced, he began to draw from memory.  Over the next decades, Steele became a critically acclaimed artist of the American West, but the Bataan Death March and the labor camps were never far from his mind.  He filled notebooks with drawings of these memories.

Steele passed away at the age of 98 on September 25, 2016.  His drawings of his experiences in World War II have been donated to the MacArthur Memorial where they will be preserved in perpetuity.  

More program details to follow.

FREE and open to the public but registration is required.