Women’s Memorial Hosts Soldier, Marine Photo Exhibit
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
ARLINGTON, Va., May. 28, 2008 Duty, courage, camaraderie and sacrifice are on display at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial here.
Navy Reserve Petty Officer 1st Class Gustavo Santa, a Gulf War and Iraq war veteran, took his children Justin, 8, and Megan, 10, to see “The American Soldier: A Photographic Tribute to Soldiers and Marines” exhibit on display at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial, May 26, 2008. The exhibit is on display at the memorial through Labor Day. Defense Department photo by Gerry J. Gilmore
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The public can view a collection of 115 black-and-white and color photographs that depict U.S. soldiers and Marines in action spanning from the Civil War to the present day. The photos were culled from more than 4,000 images that were reviewed by exhibit curator Cyma Rubin.
The free exhibit is titled, “The American Soldier: A Photographic Tribute to Soldiers and Marines.” The traveling exhibit will be featured inside the women’s memorial building through Labor Day.
Passers-by often comment on the raw emotions expressed in the faces of the photo’s subjects.
“They are very moving pictures that you don’t normally get to see of the troops” in action, Bobby Bookwalter, from Clinton, Md., said after he and his family viewed the exhibit on Memorial Day.
The photo exhibit “is nicely done and in chronological order,” said Mark Swallow, a native of Pittsburgh who now lives and works in Washington as an intern with a local construction design firm.
“Being a 20-year-old male, I see a lot of people that look just like I do,” Swallow said as he looked over photos of the Korean War. “It’s fascinating that young men, like I, shaped this great nation. You can see the expressions on their faces -- the tough turmoil and times that they went through.”
Linsey Longstreth, 24, was taken with a black-and-white photo of “California Joe,” who was one of the North’s deadliest sharpshooters during the Civil War. She gave the exhibit high marks for organization and authenticity.
The exhibit’s often-intimate photos depict “exactly what the soldiers have gone through, whether they are triumphs or really hard times,” Longstreth said. It was especially appropriate, she said, to be able view the exhibit on Memorial Day.
Navy Reserve Petty Officer 1st Class Gustavo Santa, a Gulf War and Iraq war veteran, wore his uniform and took his children Megan, 10, and Justin, 8, along to view the photo exhibit during a holiday away from their home in southern Florida.
“I’m a veteran of the Iraq war, and I want to pay my respects to my friends,” said Santa, who served as a medical corpsman with the Marines in Hit, Iraq, during 2004 and 2005.
“I also wanted to show my kids what myself and other people have gone through,” Santa added.
At the Vietnam-era portion of the exhibit, Air Force veteran Edward Leckey Jr. eyed a black-and-white photo depicting a somber serviceman getting ready to depart on patrol and another image showing a snakelike line of “grunts” making their way across a rain-drenched rice paddy.
The Vietnam images brought back memories, Leckey said, noting that after he enlisted in 1959, he was among the first group of U.S. servicemembers to serve in South Vietnam as advisors.
“The exhibit is excellent,” said Leckey, an Alexandria, Va., resident who was accompanied by his Russian-born wife, Natalia Kozlova. “Some of it is what some people would perceive is graphic -- which I don’t.
“It just shows the real world,” Leckey emphasized, as he pointed to the photo of the lone infantryman. “You can tell that this guy right here with the M-14; he is preparing to go into the field.”
Joyce Shambley, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, and her niece, Amber Cooper, an Army veteran who performed two duty tours in Iraq, spent some time at the Iraq war photo exhibit. Cooper’s husband, Calvin, is an Army noncommissioned officer getting ready to depart on another deployment to Iraq.
“Because I am a veteran, I like to come and pay my respects to those who have given their lives for all of us,” said Shambley, who served as a hospital administrator at the time of her Army retirement in 1998. Seeing the sometimes intense photos in the Iraq exhibit “brings back memories,” said Cooper, now in the Army Reserve. “It’s also making me a little anxious, because my husband is getting ready to deploy for the third time.”
This time, Cooper is staying home to care for her 9-month-old son, Calvin, named after her husband. Cooper said she sometimes wishes that she could accompany her husband to Iraq.
“If I didn’t have my baby boy, I would do it again,” Cooper said.