12-16-cover.jpg In 1995, Cyna Rubin saw a photograph of a soldier from World War II. That photo stayed with her, and almost ten years later, became the inspiration for The American Soldier: A Photographic Tribute to Soldiers and Marines, now on exhibit at the Florence Civic Center.

In 2004, Rubin began reviewing photographs for the exhibit. In total, she looked at more than 4,000 photographs spanning the nine major wars the United States has been involved in since 1861. Her intent was to select photographs that could tell the story of the man (and woman) at war.

She selected 116 photographs for the exhibit, which she felt refl ected how America’s wars have “looked on the ground” through the eyes of the men (and, in more recent years, women) who have fought them, and through the lenses of the photographers who have bravely accompanied America’s combat forces into battle.

The exhibit begins with the Civil War and follows America’s Soldiers and Marines through time up to the present day confl icts.

Kendall Wall, the general manager of the Florence Civic Center, noted that while the photographs are different, they are really the same.

“You see it in their faces, their eyes,” he said. “The confl icts have changed, but the spirit of the American Soldier hasn’t.”

Wall, a former general manager of the Crown Coliseum Complex, said hosting the exhibit was a new idea for the center.

“This isn’t something we’ve done before, but we saw the exhibit, and thought it would be an incredible thing to bring to the area,” he said. “It’s open to the public at no charge, and we thought it would be a great gift to the community.”

The exhibit also ties in nicely with the Veterans Park that is adjacent to the facility. Wall said that many people may not think about Florence as a destination for these kinds of events, but he hopes Fayetteville residents will take advantage of the proximity to see this international show while it is in the area.

“Florence is only about 15 minutes further away than Raleigh,” he said. “So it would be a short ride down I-95 to view this wondeful exhibit.”

He noted that the civic center is co-located to the Florence mall and a number of restaurants, so making a day-trip would be quite feasible.

If you decide to make the short trip down to Florence for the exhibit, you might want to consider one of these three special days:

Dec. 19 has been designated as Marine Corps League Day, and will feature speakers from the Marines, including Lt. Clebe McClary, a highly decorated Marine offi cer; Sgt. Maj. William C. Rice of Camp Lejeune; and Sgt. Maj. Andrew Yagle, Depot Sergeant Major, Parris Island. Entertainment for the event will be provided by the Liberty Bells, a touring troup with the USO who will do a special Christmas performance.

Jan. 9, 2010 is the Vietnam Veterans of America Day. Guest Speakers will include: Lt. Joseph Marm, a Medal of Honor recipient, and Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston. Entertainment will be provided by the 282D Army Band, based out of Fort Jackson, S.C.

Jan. 23, 2010 is Disabled American Veterans & Purple Heart Society Day. Guest Speakers will include: Cpl. Roldolfo Hernandez, a Medal of Honor recipient; Maj. Gen. Stanhope Spears, the Adjutant General of South Carolina; and Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa, the president of The Citadel. Entertainment will be provided by The Citadel Regimental Band & Pipes and Rifl e Legion Drill Team.

The exhibit will remain on display through Feb. 2, 2010. The show is free to the public, and is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, visit www.fl orenceciviccenter.com or call (843) 679-9417

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