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New Freedom Garden panel recognizes Iraq, Afghanistan wars
Northeast Georgia History Center Director Glen Kyle, right, and Marine Scott Ballard visit the new panel inside the Freedom Garden at the history center. Focusing on America ’ s wars since 1990, primarily its involvement in the Middle East and the war on terror, the panel has recently been added to the garden's wall.

A new granite panel focusing on America’s wars since 1990, primarily its involvement in the Middle East and the war on terror, has been added to the Freedom Garden at the Northeast Georgia History Center at Brenau University.

“During this period, the Middle East became the focal point for political and social unrest, culminating in several military interventions,” according to an etched description on the panel, installed last week at the museum at 322 Academy St. in Gainesville.

The military involvement was “designed to remove governments dedicated to authoritarian rule and the promotion of global terrorism.”

The panel goes on to describe Operation Desert Storm, when a U.S.-led coalition expelled Iraq from Kuwait, and mention 9/11.

“A U.S.-led coalition launched Operation Enduring Freedom to destroy Al Qaeda and to topple the Afghanistan-based Taliban government,” the panel states.

The panel sets the time frame for the conflicts as 1990-2014.

Most troops had left the region by the end of 2014, but “the U.S. military is still there, U.S. advisers are still there,” said retired Marine Scott Ballard, who served 2004-05 in Iraq and is a history center board member. “We’re just not … leading combat operations.”

The display corresponds to granite pillars in the garden bearing the names of veterans of American wars, including one with the inscription “Afghanistan, Iraq and Global War.”

“As we started adding more and more names of folks who served since 9/11, it was like we needed to add (a panel) on the back wall so that (visitors) can get some kind of context,” history center Director Glen Kyle said.

The back wall features a series of panels, dubbed “America’s Pathway to Freedom,” briefly describing American conflicts since World War I.

The Freedom Garden opened in May 2007, three years after the history center opened at Brenau.

Adding the 1990-2014 panel seemed “the next logical step,” Ballard said.

“The shame of it is you have to continue to add to the wall,” he said. “Unfortunately, there’s space left for whatever comes next.”