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Museum exhibit highlights efforts of POW Wives

The Iowa Gold Star Military Museum is hosting an exhibit highlighting the efforts of POW/MIA Wives.

DES MOINES, Iowa — A new exhibit at the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum is shining a light on the families behind veterans, specifically, the wives of Prisoners of War in Vietnam. 

The exhibit is called "The League of Wives: Vietnam’s POW/MIA Allies and Advocates," based on Heath Hardage Lee's book "League of Wives". 

The exhibit traces the stories of multiple women who formed the National League of Families of American Prisoners. They had the same goal of fighting for their husband's freedom. 

"The wives of the families try to lobby the government to get the men out in the Hanoi Hilton and related prisons, also to account for the missing men," Hardage Lee said.

Michael Vogt, a curator at the museum, said this is their first traveling exhibit. He noted it's an important one to host because it shares a piece of American history that shows how these women went to great lengths to help their husbands.

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Vogt also said anyone who views the exhibit will learn about the Iowa ties to the exhibit and how they were on the front end of trying to get Prisoners of Wars released.

"We have a unique set of scrapbooks that were put together by the mother of a naval aviator Larry Spencer and so they're a great resource and they have a number of clippings and a number of stories in there," Vogt said.

Lee said exhibits like this help place a spotlight on people not often included in the important conversations.

"I want you to come away and realize that these were traditional military wives who played by the rules until our government would not help them, did not listen, and they decided to speak out."

The exhibit will be up until Aug. 31.

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