WEST NYACK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A ribbon cutting event Friday honored a special group of veterans who are the focus of a new exhibit in West Nyack.

The exhibit honoring women who served our country is on display at the Palisades Center Mall, CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reported.

“I was in the Marine Corps,” said Maria Soto.

“I was in the Coast Guard,” said Elizabeth Rosenberg.

“I was in the United States Army,” said Liza Vaughan.

These three veterans are among 18 local heroes features in the exhibit titled, “Making the Invisible Visible.”

It was thought up by Sharon Bailey, who also served and is now with the non-profit Bridges.

“As women veterans, we don’t get the recognition once we get out,” said Bailey. “I want them to know that there’s somebody out here that said, ‘I see you.’ And it’s important for us to be seen.”

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Photographer Shane Samuels, a veteran and retired NYPD officer, put the focus on these women.

“Every woman in the military who has served has a story and sometimes I feel that their stories are overshadowed,” Samuels said.

They’re stories of pride, patriotism, struggles and sacrifice.

“I lost a lot of people, too, so it’s very emotional to me,” said Soto, who was in tears looking at her photo.

Emotions were also high for Vaughan, who was deployed to Iraq with the Nurse Corps – an experience she holds onto.

“The demons that are in your head… what you could have done, what you didn’t do,” said Vaughan. “This is the first time I smiled like that. I’ve been out of the army now for maybe five, six years and I never smiled like that.”

LINK:  Click here to take a virtual guided tour of the exhibit, including behind-the-scenes photos of how it came to life.

Smiling, Vaughan shared a photoshoot with sisters in service, something these women will never forget. They hope it will serve as a reminder to all who pass by.

“We’re veterans too, and we want to be recognized and we want to be noticed,” said Bailey.

The exhibit was supposed to be rolled out in libraries earlier this year, but the coronavirus pandemic changed the plan. The gallery will be in the mall for six months.

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