Feature story

The American Soldier exhibit ends its successful visit to the nation’s capital

September 25, 2008

The EADS North America-sponsored photographic tribute to U.S. Soldiers and Marines has completed its highly successful appearance at the Arlington Cemetery, attracting over 62,000 visitors during a four-month stay.

The American Soldier photo collection consists of 116 images depicting Americans in service from the Civil War to the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and was displayed at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial from May 13 through Labor Day.

Veterans were a key audience for the exhibition.  Some of those in attendance expressed their personal affinity with the soldiers in the photos – noting whether they carried the same weapon, wore the same uniform, or experienced similar challenges during their own deployment.

Many of these attendees were brought to the nation’s capital by Honor Flight – a volunteer program which transports World War II veterans from hometowns across the country to Washington, D.C. to visit the World War II Memorial, along with other locations of historic significance in the region.

Numerous Soldiers and Marines from current operations in Afghanistan and Iraq were particularly interested in the “Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom” section of the exhibit.  They gathered to discuss their personal reflections on the conflict, with several indicating that they recognized individuals in the photographs.

The Washington, D.C. stopover of the tribute to warfighters was underwritten by EADS North America, which also organized a fundraising drive that collected nearly $300,000 in donations benefitting the two primary support organizations of Soldiers, Marines and their families: the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and Army Emergency Relief.

“This extraordinary collection of images brought home the sacrifices of our warfighters, yesterday and today,” said Ralph D. Crosby, Jr., Chairman and CEO of EADS North America.  “It was viewed by visitors of all ages – from young students to World War II-era servicemen and women – and it became a proud part of our nation’s capital.”

The American Soldier exhibit garnered national press coverage while at Arlington Cemetery, including stories in news publications such as The Washington Times and Politico, as well as a one-hour television special on C-SPAN.

“We were extremely pleased to host this tribute, which brought an extraordinary exhibit to our constituents and to visitors,” said Brig. Gen. Wilma L. Vaught, USAF (Ret.), President of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation.

Display infrastructure provided by EADS North America for the photographic tribute has been given to the Memorial – proving versatility for the future expansion of its exhibition capabilities.

The collection of American Soldier images will next appear at the Lake County Discovery Museum in Wauconda, Illinois beginning on October 3.  Follow-on bookings will continue the exhibition’s U.S. tour through 2011.

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