Smithsonian Opens “Americans at War” Exhibit

Our Wars (Thomas Ricks, WaPo)

Showing unusual courage, the Smithsonian has charged onto the controversial battleground of America’s wars — and generally done well. The National Museum of American History exhibition opening today to mark Veterans Day is the first overview of U.S. military history the Smithsonian has ever mounted. Indeed, the museum says, it is “the most comprehensive exhibition of military conflicts in American history.” Some might be put off by the loaded title, “The Price of Freedom: Americans at War.” But behind that red-state rubric is a well-balanced show, with enough combat gear to please the warriors, enough emphasis on casualties and Indians and blacks and women to comfort the loyal opposition, and enough balance to satisfy most historians.

Unfortunately, politics seems inextricable from history these days. All new Smithsonian exhibits are plagued with this sort of controversy. Reading the rest of the piece, though, it sounds like they’ve generally done a good job with this. Definitely a must-see if you’re ever in the neighborhood.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.