War on Terror Exhibit Attracts Thousands in North Carolina
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 20, 2004 A new exhibit at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum in downtown Fayetteville, N.C., features hundreds of vivid photos and artifacts that show the contributions of airborne and special operations soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker speaks at the opening of the "Soldiers: The Global War on Terrorism" exhibit at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, N.C. Photo courtesy of Airborne & Special Operations Museum
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The 15,000-square-foot exhibit, "Soldiers: The Global War on Terrorism," attracted almost 13,000 visitors within the first three weeks of its opening in March, according to Sandy Klotz, executive director for the Airborne & Special Operations Museum Foundation. The exhibit is scheduled to remain on display through the year's end.
The exhibit tells the story of airborne and special operations soldiers supporting Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom through hundreds of dramatic photos, many taken by U.S. service members and projected on wide- screen televisions scattered throughout the exhibit. The photos capture soldiers in the heat of battle, interacting with local residents, grieving the loss of a comrade.
"These pictures show that the American soldier is a compassionate human being who wants to help people," said museum director John Duvall.
Artifacts displayed throughout the exhibit also help tell the story of the war on terror: from a scrap of wreckage rescued from the World Trade Center towers at the entranceway to a life-size re-creation of a special operations base camp in the theater to an overhead display of leaflets readied for airdrop to help win the hearts and minds of the local population.
The exhibit also features items brought home by redeploying troops, including a ceremonial helmet worn by an Iraqi Republican Guard soldier, an Iraqi special forces uniform and beret and a Russian-made rocket-propelled grenade.
A huge screen at the back of the exhibit flashes news clips of dramatic moments in the war on terror.
Duvall said the goal of the exhibit is to help the public understand the myriad contributions soldiers are making to Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. "We want them to feel a sense of pride about what these people are doing," he said.
During the exhibit's opening ceremony, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker praised its role in educating the public about the role U.S. soldiers play in the war on terror.
President Bush recognized the museum's opening in a letter. "Your exhibit depicting the daily lives our of soldiers serving in Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom will help museum visitors understand our soldiers' commitment to our country and their legacy of patriotism," the president wrote.
The exhibit is just one attraction at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum, a veritable "Taj Mahal" in downtown Fayetteville that has attracted more than 700,000 visitors since it opened in 2000, according to Klotz. The museum, located just off interstate I-95, has become one of North Carolina's top 10 attractions, she said.
John Duvall called the decision to base the museum not on nearby Fort Bragg but off post, where it is more accessible to the public, "a brilliant move" that he expects will be duplicated by other military museums.
The museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. It is closed all Mondays except federal holidays.