EXHIBIT IS ON DISPLAY THROUGH OCTOBER 21, 2018!
Photographs were a powerful part of our collective memory of the Vietnam War. Many of the iconic photographs were taken by photojournalists working for newspapers, magazines, or wire services. But there were also military photographers in Vietnam serving in our armed forces. They took thousands of photographs that covered every aspect of the conflict – photographs that are now a part of our National Archives.
Military photographers were sent everywhere: the jungles and swamps, forward bases, hospital ships, rivers, and air bases. Unsanitized and uncensored, these indelible images give and intimate view of the war and those who fought it.
The exhibition, divided into three themes, includes over 40 photographs, murals, and first-hand accounts from the men and women who documented American Armed Forces activities in Vietnam.
One Exhibit – Three Photographic Themes:
Landscapes – Most Americans knew almost nothing about Vietnam before the war. Many soldiers, sailors, and airmen seeing Vietnam’s dense jungles, rugged mountains, murky swamps, endless rice paddies, and brown rivers for the first time must have felt very far from home.
Objects – Wars are often summed up and remembered through artifacts. The Vietnam War created its own set of memorable objects, many of which appear in military photographs, including helicopters, M-16 rifles, graffiti-covered helmets, Phantom jets, peace symbol necklaces, and body bags.
Faces – War puts individuals into extraordinary and dangerous situations. Such circumstances fostered determination, anxiety, exhaustion, boredom, compassion, exaltation, and dread – feelings that are seen in the faces of those who were there.
More than 50 years after the United States committed combat troops to the war in Vietnam, and more than 40 years since the war ended, the complexity of the conflict is still being unraveled. This groundbreaking exhibit uses original National Archives documents and photographs to provide a framework for understanding the decisions that led to the war, the events and consequences of the war, and its legacy.
The “Picturing Nam” project will include programs that encourage historical inquiry and public conversations about the war and its aftermath. The Museum will include Upcountry artifacts, images, and oral histories from its permanent collection to connect local and national history and to commemorate those who served during the Vietnam War, and those who waited for their return to the Upcountry.