Vietnam War photo exhibit now in Western Wisconsin

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NEILSVILLE, Wis. (WEAU) -- A nationwide exhibit showing a different perspective of the Vietnam War showcasing veterans' photos is now in Western Wisconsin.

"My War," a photo exhibit showcasing the work of Vietnam veterans’ photographs taken during the Vietnam War, is at the Highground Veteran's Memorial Park in Neillsville.

When most think of the Vietnam War, they think of the amount of lost soldiers and the horror that comes along with it, but not many think of it from the everyday life of a soldier.

72 photos all taken by 22 Vietnam Veterans during the Vietnam War can now be found in the Learning Center at the Highground. But the story told in the photos isn't one of the war most think of.

"It's really about showcasing a perspective of the war that we don't even think about,” Marissa Roth, the curator of the “My War” exhibit, said. “It's their perspective; it's personal. The pictures: most of them aren't gruesome or grim. They're poignant. Some are tender, some are funny.”

And some tell a story only Vietnam veterans, like Steve Maddox, who has a few photos in the exhibit, can tell.

"(A Vietnamese child) either returned my salute or initiated it,” Maddox said as he pointed at a picture he took in Vietnam of Vietnamese children saluting. “I don't remember anymore, but it was one of those once in a lifetime moments where I had the camera in the right place at the right time so now we can, all these many years later, share it with each of you. It's given some real purpose to my life."

72 photographs completed the final exhibition, but at the beginning, there were thousands from which Roth could choose.

“It was sort of like cooking; you can always add salt to the soup, but if you add too much salt, you can’t take it out,” Roth explained. “The top priority was it had to be a strong image.”

A main reason Roth put this exhibit together was to let the Vietnam Veterans tell their own story.

"To give a voice to others I sincerely believe have something important and relevant to say,” Roth said. “These veterans were not treated very positively when they came back and so for them to now have a means of showing a different perspective on the war, on their war, it's indescribable. It's gratifying."

The “My War” exhibit will be traveling nationally to museums and other veteran-related venues after it leaves the Highground October 30th.

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