- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 9, 2004

The Smithsonian Institution will open an exhibit tomorrow that chronicles nearly 250 years of American military conflict.

“The Price of Freedom: Americans at War” features nearly 850 artifacts and photographs from major U.S. military actions, ranging from the Revolutionary War to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will be a permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

“This exhibition — the only one of its kind in a U.S. museum — gives visitors a sweeping and memorable overview of America’s military experience and the central role it has played in our national life,” said Brent Glass, director of the museum. “Visitors will experience the impact of war on citizen soldiers — average men and women who serve their country — as well as on their families and communities.”

The exhibit occupies about 18,200 square feet and is in the museum’s Kenneth E. Behring Hall of Military History. Mr. Behring, a philanthropist from California, made a donation to help the Smithsonian establish the exhibit.

The artifacts include George Washington’s battle sword and scabbard, photographs of soldiers in action, and a UH-1H Huey helicopter flown during the Vietnam War.

The largest portion of the exhibit is dedicated to World War II. Items on display include a Willys Jeep used to transport troops and supplies during the war, ration books, accounts of United Service Organizations (US0) programs and pictures of movie star Betty Grable assuming shoulder arms positions.

The opening is one of many local events on Veterans Day honoring the sacrifices of American veterans.

Arlington National Cemetery will commemorate the holiday with a wreath-laying ceremony at 11 a.m. at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. President Bush and Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony J. Principi, who will participate in the wreath-laying, will offer remarks at the cemetery’s amphitheater after the ceremony.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund will host an observance at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial beginning at 1 p.m. Rep. John P. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, is one of several speakers scheduled to participate.

The Naval District Washington will host a full honors wreath-laying ceremony at 1 p.m. at the U.S. Navy Memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue in Northwest.

In Maryland, wounded soldiers recuperating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center are expected to participate in a parade in Leonardtown. The parade will begin at 10 a.m.

Also, the American Legion Post 141 will hold a ceremony at the World War II Memorial in Annapolis at 11 a.m. Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Maryland Veterans Affairs Secretary George W. Owings III are scheduled to speak at the event, and the state’s National Guard band is set to perform.

Catherine Watts, executive assistant at the Veterans Affairs Department, said the ceremony “will be a very nice and fitting tribute.”

Arlo Wagner contributed to this report.

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