Visitors to national POW museum reflect on Iraqi prisoner abuse - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Visitors to national POW museum reflect on Iraqi prisoner abuse

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May 19, 2004

Andersonville, Ga. - David Long's great-grandfather was a prisoner of war in the Civil War.

That's why he's visiting the National POW museum in Andersonville. But it reminds him how U.S. soldiers humiliated Iraqi prisoners of war through abusive pictures.

"You take that picture and you say, I'm going to send this to your father. I'm going to show this to your mother, that here you are naked in the presence of a woman and that would be horrible to them," said Long, who is a pastor in Richmond Hill and has studied Islam.

But a walk through the memories of American Prisoners of War is a harsh reminder of how our soldiers in the past have suffered too, from the Civil War to World War II and Vietnam.

The locks and foot shackles in a display of a small cement prison cell bring to life the suffering of prisoners of war. But it may also make people wonder if society is spending so much time talking about the Iraqi prisoner controversy that the every day good works of American soldiers in Iraq are overlooked.

"We're the most generous, most gracious, most helpful nation in the history of the world," Long said. "We don't hear enough of that."

Men and women who fought for America in the past were often tortured and abused. With the pictures of Iraqi prisoner abuse, now Americans are accused of the same cruel treatment.

"We can't slip to their level. We can't become as they are. We can't act like they do."

Because that's not the kind of history Americans like Long want to pass on in museums.

posted at 10:56 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com