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The Smithsonian's 'Price of Freedom'

The Museum of American History's new permanent exhibition, 'The Price of Freedom,' features personal artifacts from 16 conflicts involving U.S. troops.

NPR's Scott Simon talks with Vietnam veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Al Rascon about his unique place in the exhibition, and with curator David Allison.

The exhibition features both the grand and the mundane, from the chairs used at Appomattox at the end of the Civil War, to a bicycle used to transport supplies along the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail during the Vietnam War.

Rascon's experience in Vietnam is told through a photograph in the exhibition taken by award-winning Australian photojournalist Tim Page. It shows a wounded Rascon being supported by his members of his unit. Rascon was wounded in the hip during a March 1966 firefight he describes as "10 minutes of pure hell."

Medals of Honor are routinely awarded within two years of an act of wartime heroism, but Rascon's original citation was lost in Pentagon bureaucracy. An appeal by Rep. Lane Evans (D-IL) to President Clinton led to Rascon's Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House in February 2000.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.