An opening reception for the photography exhibition Innocent Souls: Vietnam 1968 and Yesterday’s Kids, is being held at the Florida Keys History and Discovery Center in Islamorada Wednesday, Nov. 2 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The reception is open to the public and will include hors devours and a cash bar. More than 30 large canvas images will be displayed while music of the era is performed by Ken and Carol Schryver, the Sunshine Band. Also, joining photographer Glenn Hoover will be renowned Vietnamese artist Huong. Huong, a war survivor, now lives in Miami and owns the Peace Gallery on Washington Avenue, Miami Beach. She is loaning the exhibition her “Red Rain” painting.
The exhibition features photographs taken during the peak of the conflict. The images were captured by Hoover, a Key Largo resident, while he was serving as an infantry first lieutenant in the Republic of South Vietnam. The photos focus on the Vietnamese and Montagnards people who lived there, as well as the young American soldiers who served there.
The exhibition will be at the History and Discovery Center the month of November and early December. It can also be previewed on line at www.innocentsoulsvietnam.org.
Hoover said he has been pleased with how these nearly 50 year old images have been received.
“Each time we open a new exhibition, we receive many heartfelt, emotional comments and notes of appreciation. We thought that we might get this reaction from those who were there or otherwise closely affected by the war,” he said. “However, we never anticipated the interest and feed back that we have received by many younger observers, including elementary school children.”
Dr. Yentsch and Glenn agree that it is not the intent of the exhibition to be a documentary, nor to pass any moral judgment about the period. The photographs are a series of snap shots taken during a brief moment in time by one person. It is their hope that by looking through the eyes, into the souls of the subjects, the observers will contemplate the consequences of such conflicts and perhaps ask some questions. One such question might be, “What do we owe them?” If this happens, they will consider the exhibition a success.
Hoover was an Army ROTC graduate of Cornell University. He received a Silver Star, Bronze Star “V” Device, Army Commendation Medal and a Combat Infantryman’s Badge during his 12-months tour in Vietnam in 1968. He worked years in the hospitality industry and now owns Glenn Hoover Real Estate.
The exhibition is dedicated to Marine Captain Jerry Zimmer, Hoover’s high school classmate and football teammate. A F4 Phantom jet pilot, he was shot down while on a mission Aug. 29, 1969 in the mountainous Central Highlands of South Vietnam. Classified as an MIA, his wife Elaine continues an effort to locate his remains and “bring Jerry home.” A longtime writer, Elaine has chronicled her labor-of-love mission in an ongoing blog, www.bringingjerryhome.com. She welcomes all visitors to Jerry’s site for an insider’s look at their journey.
The exhibition will be available for viewing at the Florida Keys History and Discovery Center, 82100 Overseas Highway, Islamorada, Florida 33036 from Nov. 3 through Dec. 4. The Center is open Thursdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Center will also be hosting a presentation by Glenn Hoover, with an opportunity for questions the evening of Nov. 30.