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Military memorabilia on display at fairground, special exhibits free to public through Thursday

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A collection of military artifacts including uniforms worn by service members going all the way back to the Spanish-American War is on display in the Community Building at the Coosa Valley Fairground through Thursday of this week.

The exhibit is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and the exhibit helps tell the story of American armed forces.

Veterans Marty Potash, Buddy Simpson and Lamar Scott have put together a massive collection of memorabilia over the last ten years.

“We go to yard sales, flea market and buy people out,” Scott said. A Vietnam veteran with the U.S. Marine Corps, Scott said the partners take the exhibits to schools across the state.

“We try to teach them about American history and why we have the freedoms we have now, they have no clue,” said Scott.

Their collection includes more than 60 mannequins with men and women in a wide variety of uniforms, weapons, helmets and medals.

Potash, who was an Air Force pilot, said that one of the most unique items in his collection is a map of Iwo Jima taken off a Japanese officer in World War II.

Many of the real stories of World War I and World War II are no longer being taught in the schools, Buddy Simpson said. Simpson is a Marine Corp veteran who served during the Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba in 1962 and later Vietnam.

Rome Exchange Club member Bill King echoed Simpson’s thoughts, remembering when a high school teacher approached him to ask when World War I was fought.

The Rome Exchange Club’s award-winning replica of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is also part of the exhibit. The replica is exactly half the size of the original in Arlington national Cemetery and includes three crypt covers from World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans. The replica has toured across the country.

The displays also includes the Georgia’s Fallen Heroes Exhibit which features the names of all Georgians who died in the Iraq War between 2003 and 2011.

A number of military vehicles from the Duke Museum of Military History in Rome are also part of the exhibit.