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Port Columbus exhibit tells stories, sacrifices of POWs

Exhibit at Port Columbus explores the POW experience

The traveling exhibit from the Andersonville National Historic Site, "The Victory Within: The American Prisoner of War Experience," is on display at the National Civil War Naval Museum
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The traveling exhibit from the Andersonville National Historic Site, "The Victory Within: The American Prisoner of War Experience," is on display at the National Civil War Naval Museum

A new exhibit at Port Columbus is paying homage to American prisoners of war.

Victory From Within: The American Prisoner of War Experience is a traveling exhibit that was developed with a team from the Andersonville National Historic Site in Georgia and the National Prisoner of War Museum. It offers a rare glimpse into the lives of American POWs throughout the history of the United States.

“Victory from Within provides a vivid look at what Americans have experienced as prisoners of war throughout our history, from the American Revolution through modern conflicts,” said Holly B. Wait, the museum’s executive director. “In particular, the exhibit speaks to the experience at Andersonville, the most well-known Southern prisoner of war camp during the Civil War. A number of Union sailors and marines were held prisoner at Camp Sumter (Andersonville).”

As visitors enter the exhibit, they are met with a quote by Winston Churchill: “Prisoner of war ... You are in the power of your enemy. You must obey his orders, go where he tells you, stay where you are bid, await his pleasure, possess your soul in patience.”

The interactive exhibit has four different sections that are designed to cover various aspects of the POW experience: Capture, Prison Life, Those Who Wait and Freedom.

One wall addresses war crimes committed against American soldiers. It is positioned beside a video monitor and features personal interviews with POW survivors.

Several elements are designed to put each person in the shoes of a POW for a few moments. A bench the size of a standard Army cot is on display for visitors to lay down on. It is accompanied by the words, “Sit down and imagine sleeping here. This bench is the same size as a regulation World War II U.S. Army cot, but many prison camps offered less comfortable beds or none at all.”

Other topics address the courage of POWs. “Symbols of Defiance” shows how POWs motivated themselves while in captivity and retained hope.

But the exhibit also details the soldiers’ fight from within. An anonymous quote from a POW reads: “I learned that the human body can suffer nearly everything and still survive.”

Victory From Within will be on display until mid-January 2017. Jonathan Perkins, the museum’s director of communications, said the exhibit is for all ages.

If you go

What: “Victory From Within: The American Prisoner of War Experience”

Where: National Civil War Naval Museum at Port Columbus, 1002 Victory Drive

When: Today-Monday 12:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.; Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4:30p.m. through mid-January

Cost: Adults, $7.50; military and senior citizens, $6.50; students, $6; children 6 and under, free

Contact: 706-327-9798 or go to portcolumbus.org

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