Richard Balzer doesn't want American veterans returning from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars to face the same music he did when he came home from Vietnam.
So this Veterans Day, the 58-year-old Southern Oregon University student is trying to bridge the gap between soldiers and civilians through a photography exhibit at the university's Hannon Library.
"What we went through, we don't want them to go through, so were trying to help them," he said Monday.
"Regardless of what you feel about war, and the wars we've been in, you have to separate the war from the warriors."
The exhibit, titled "Service, Honor, Respect," features photographs and photo illustrations from Balzer's visits to places where soldiers are remembered: the Presidio of San Francisco, the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall during its stop in Eagle Point and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.
"I'm trying to show the views that were in people's minds when they went to the wall and saw the wall, and also the feelings that I had," the former Navy boatswain and diver said.
Balzer, whose work has been exhibited throughout Southern Oregon, will speak about his experience taking the memorial photos at 4 p.m. on Wednesday in the Meese Meeting Room at the university's library. The free talk features a slide show of his photographs.
The exhibit, located on the third floor of the library, continues through Dec. 7, the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Balzer, who is studying photojournalism at SOU, hopes the photography show will travel around the country after it is shown at the university, he said.
The exhibit, like Veterans Day, is a chance to remember the sacrifices American soldiers have made for the country, Balzer said.
"We've got to remember the vets," he said. "I see guys that are walking around in their World War II hats or the men and women who have just gotten back, and I walk up to them and shake their hands and thank them for their service."
Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.