Exhibit Offers Look Into Lives Of Spanish-American War Soldiers

Jacksonport, AR (KAIT)-

Sunday's exhibit opening in Jacksonport honors the brave men who, while never fought America's enemies in 1898, contributed to the reputation of the American solider all the same.

For Arkansas Capitol Historian Dr. David Ware, tales from the Spanish-American War serve as reminders of what's been lost and sometimes long-forgotten in the minds of Arkansans today.

"There's all sorts of lessons in history that are floating around out there and museums like this remind people of the things that have sort of faded into barely remembered consciousness," said Dr. Ware, featured guest speaker at Sunday's opening.

Silk flags adorned with oil paintings serve as the centerpiece of Jacksonport State Park Museum's "Remember the Maine!" exhibit.

Soldiers from Newport and neighboring towns were part of the 2nd Arkansas Volunteer Regiment during the Spanish-American War.

But, they never actually made it to the front lines of battle.

"Most of the troops that got summoned in the Spanish-American War, since there was such a brief period of time, they didn't actually go to Cuba, where most of the fighting went on," said Angela Jackson, museum curator.

Instead they spent their days and nights in Georgia at Camp Thomas.

Most of the memorablia included in the exhibit is from the soldier's time in training.

"It's mostly a legacy of the training they went through there and just the stories they had to tell of their lives in the camps," said Jackson.

There were fifty casualties of the two Northeast Arkansas regiments at Camp Thomas, most of can be attributed to infectious diseases.

Aside from a brief history lesson, what Dr. Ware wants most for people to take away from the exhibit, the importance of the get-up-and-go mindset, of some of the Spanish-American War's greatest military leaders.

That message is documented in Elbert Hubbard's motivational essay, "A Message to Garcia," which Ware says, exemplifies the concept.

"The idea was to instill a sense of duty," said Ware.

The Jacksonport State Park Museum is open Tuesday through Friday, closed Mondays.

Questions or Comments? E-mail me at rsmith@kait8.com