- Associated Press - Monday, February 27, 2017

STORRS, Conn. (AP) - Cal Robertson hadn’t been to many Broadway shows at the time, and was hoping he wasn’t missing much.

“Radio is the thing here and the armed forces station has a fairly wide variety of music,” Robertson, now 71, wrote in a letter to his grandparents while serving in Vietnam. “It will also be carrying the Bob Hope show.”

Robertson, who is well-known locally for his anti-war protests, served two tours in Vietnam with the Navy. He was a familiar face at the base of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument for more than two decades. Now, he’s usually found at the corner of Huntington and Broad streets, holding signs for peace.

Several of Robertson’s personal belongings - which would likely be recognizable to many in southeastern Connecticut - are part of an exhibit currently on display at the University of Connecticut’s Thomas J. Dodd Research Center Gallery titled “A Legacy of Veteran Expressions after War.”

Guest curators Robin Albarano and Jordan Kiper drew from UConn’s Archives & Special Collections to pull together narratives of veterans’ experiences after the war.

The exhibit features art, poetry, songs, stories and signs of protest from veterans who served in the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. Through those outlets, the veterans, in their own voices, express the moral costs of war, and, in some cases, a search for reconciliation.

Lining the walls are posters documenting the social movements organized and facilitated by Iraq Veterans Against the War. Sheets of papers, made from recycled uniforms worn by 10 different veterans in combat, display images of a service member dressed in uniform. Iraq veteran Aaron Hughes, with the help of the Brooklyn Artist Alliance, published a series of inkjet prints that show the “ambiguous and anxious moments” of a deployment by the 1244th Transportation Company to Iraq in support of combat operations there.

Kiper is clear that the exhibit is not representative of all veterans, but illustrates one dimension of the veteran experience.

As Graham Stinnett, curator of the Humans Rights Archives, put it, these are voices not often part of mainstream conversations.

These experiences also aren’t exclusive to American veterans. Kiper and Albarano see parallels with those who fought in the Yugoslav Wars. A correlating exhibit, featuring photographs taken by Albarano of ex-fighters of the wars and their oral histories collected by Kiper, is on display in the hallway adjacent to the gallery. It details their working toward reconciliation, peace and justice.


Information from: The Day, https://www.theday.com



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