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tv   Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection  CSPAN  March 25, 2016 11:09pm-11:40pm EDT

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and the letter describes gary and brett's interaction in vietnam. they were comrades in arms. and apparently grit would always ask gary for the time. he never knew what time it was, even though he was a radio operator and could easily call in and ask out. and gary would always tell him. he also lost his can opener and would have to use gary's can opener. and gary was killed after an explosive device detonated near him. and the letter describes how grit held him in his arms as he grew cold and he wouldn't let him go. in 1989, he decided to leave his watch and his can opener at the wall for gary. it was corporal gary jenks.
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he's on the wall. so this flag and note were left on veterans day 1992, the ten-year anniversary of the wall. and it was left by john parks, who was a prisoner of war for five years in vietnam. he coincidentally has done an oral history project for the library of congress, which is very interesting. you can hear about his experience as a prisoner of war. but he left this flag, which was presented to him upon his return to the united states after he was released. on it is a crucifix, which he made out of a tooth paste tube, and the tie is from his prison uniform. and right here, there's a pin for the pow/mia, which is prisoners of war missing in action. and the note is essentially saying he's dedicating his flag
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to all the other men who are missing in action or prisoners of war in vietnam. a lot of times veterans, if they want to come see the things that they left, we are always willing to give them a tour and show them around. it also really helps us, because we can connect specific names to donors, and what they left. like, for instance, we have a big barrel that was left, i think it was left in 2002. i am too young to know what it was. but i've been told that in vietnam they used it as a lat rein. and a very unfortunate soldier was given the duty of burning it every now and then, and that was probably one of the worst jobs you could have. but they came and they gave us a little bit of context about what it was, and when they left it and why. so that's really cool.
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so there are some donors who are still really active and want to see the things that they left. so this, as you may or may not know is a roll of toilet paper. which you may be wondering why we have it in our collection, but toilet paper, it was gold in vietnam, because if you were out in the field and you didn't have any toilet paper, you had to make do with something else less desirable. and so we get little rolls of toilet paper. we get the little -- in the rations they were given. sometimes they were given a little thing of toilet paper. we get those left at the wall pretty often too. because vietnam veterans understand when they see toilet paper in this context, they know what it was left for. but this one was left with this little note. says the jungle, it won't wash off, the sounds and smells. like the waves on the ocean that
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come and go on my mind, the memories remain. left in 1992. >> these two photographs were left on veterans day 1983, which was the dedication of the women's memorial. the women's memorial is dedicated to all the women who served and died in vietnam. you don't often talk about the women of the war. there are actually eight women's names on the memorial, but there are at least 60 women who died in vietnam. they didn't get their names on the memorial because they weren't enlisted in the memorial like the other eight women were. but these are two photographs of donut dollies who are essentially american red cross volunteers, and those were the other 60 women who died were either volunteers or, you know, something of that sort. often were nurses in vietnam. they staffed the field hospitals and so these two are dedicated
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to the boys and it says, all gave some, some gave all. and it lists the ladies of the american red cross. they were there from november 1971 to january 1972. >> this has a countdown of 365 numbers, which 365 days is the standard tour that veterans served in vietnam. so i am assuming. we don't have any other information about this, no background information, no note or anything. but i assume that he printed this out and counted down the days that he had to serve in vietnam. because it's titled "the long road home," and on the bottom down here, it says "my vietnam holiday." and this is really interesting, because as he was crossing off
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the days, he would put a little bit more information about what like his 280th day was. you know, he points here, his 269th day was sms. lz sue. so he was at landing zone sue. when he was in the hump for these days. his first anniversary, we don't know of what. he doesn't describe what the anniversary was. but it just -- i'm assuming as he would experience a day, he would cross it off. some other interesting days here too, the 4th of july, his 62nd day -- or, well, his day that he only had 62 more days was "man has landed on the moon." and his last five days, this is a five-day drop. and then here he says, caution, vietnam maybe hazardous to your
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health. so this is what we see often for people who -- we get a lost things for short-timers, where they would come and notch off the days they had left. i get a lot of calendars like this, where they were counting down the days until they got to go home. really interesting to see things like this, especially if they carried it in vietnam. the park service is guided by certain rules that we follow, the antiquities act, the organic act that kind of, i don't know, they set the basis for all museum collections in our nation. and for us, ours is guided by a statement. every museum collection has a specific collection statement. and that dictates exactly what we keep for the collection, what
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we're interested in, what we're interested in interpreting for the collection, what falls within our parameters and it also tells you what does not fall within the parameters of the collection. once they get here, we do what they call processing. that's sorting through them, putting things together that go together. if they were left by the same person, or the same group of people. we cull things that we can't keep, including organic items like flowers and leaves and stuff that you really should not become part of a museum collection. food. we don't keep things that are hazardous to our health, obviously. things like live ammunition, stuff like that. and we don't keep unaltered unpersonalized things, like little miniature flags that no one has written anything on. but once we process t we put
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them into our standard containers, bags skpx folders and stuff like that, boxes. and then it gets cataloged into our cataloging database, and then we can use the objects for interpretation, for exhibits, for loans, for things like that. so this is an example of a box that has been cataloged. everything in it is in our database. so we could look up an object by its catalog number, which we see right here. this is the number, which tells us when we received it into our collection. that's important for us to know when we took property of it essentially. and as you can see, they're nicely folded. they have tags that will associate them, if we have to take it out of the bag, we just need to know what catalog number it is. we tie up nicely american flags
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and put archival objects, which is paper objects, in these folders and it's all organized that way. so if i need to pull something for a researcher, or for an exhibit or something, i can look into our database. and it will tell me where the object is. and i go to that box and it's fairly easy to find, either in our -- these were all left around the same time. we organize everything by when it was left at the wall. so this box, i think, is from around the ten-year anniversary. maybe just after the ten-year anniversary, november 1992. so maybe around christmas time, which is why you would see these
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ribbons, stuff like that. >> so the oldest box in here would be 1984? >> we have four boxes from the two-year period, 1982 to 1984, when they were just initially collecting things, and this is one of them right here. and you can see it's a lot of the same types of things that were in the other box, and it's a lot of the same types of things that are being left today. we have a lot of tassels and pins, badges of all kinds, religious items. we have a lot of newspaper clippings, documentary artifacts. it's the largest amount of -- the largest category of acts that are left at the wall. paper objects, essentially.
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and notes, poems, clippings, greeting cards, business cards, things like that. we get a lot of flags. a lot of plaques. so this was card was left in 2000 for barry baush who was killed in vietnam. i'm just going to read it. it says, my dearest barry, it's been over 31 years since you were taken away from me, but you remain in my heart, my truest love always. i visited the memorial wall today in washington, d.c., and laid with you the ring i gave you on your 18th birthday the first summer we met. always know that i love you still, even though i'm married and have three beautiful children, laura named after your sister, blake, and lena. i will mourn for the family we were never given the chance to have. when the lord takes me home, i
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know i'll meet you again and share many memories. this letter and the trophy were left on october 30, 1988, for joseph craig peters. i believe it was left by his son. the trophy on the back says, with all my love, christmas, 1969, dad. so i assume that maybe his dad gave it to the son. the son came to the wall and left it. the note says, were you afraid? of cours you were. the trick is not to be always fearless, but never to be hopeless. to be brave again for those who have been brave for us, and for those who will yet depend on us. it's a beautiful day, we'd be playing golf. i'd be beating you by two strokes, sucker. as always, michael. it has a peace pendant on it.
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so that's, you know, we have to kinda infer the background information for this. maybe they would always play golf together before his dad went away to war. we don't really know. this note is all we have. >> this harmonica and the note was left on october 10th, 1995. it was in an envelope addressed to gary thomas. he served as a radio telegraph operator for the third reconnaissance battalion. it says, dear brother, ever since you were killed, ifb blowing the blues. i leave my heart here at the wall for you to blow some heavenly blues for all those you left behind. i miss you daily. brother bob.
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>> so this is an in-country photograph that was left at the wall on august 9th, 1989. it depicts first and second platoons, c company, 1st battalion fifth marines. they're honoring three dead, which you can see three rifles stuck in the ground with helmets on top of them. on the back he wrote what he knew of the men. one he named -- his name was robert sawaya, another he called the new guy and another he called mr. point. i can look up the names. mr. sawaya was killed on december 19th, 1967. and so by looking up the people who were in that company, who died on the same day, i found out that the other two men are probably william edwin pearson, who was the new guy, and eddy lee jackson, who was mr. point.
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the one-fifth marines chronology gave the reason for their death, they were hit by a booby trap consisting of two or three artillery rounds. buried on 16 december, and lead wires were followed with negative results. the incident resulted in one killed in action and six wounded in action. but two of the men obviously later died. and the new guy, mr. pearson, he had been in vietnam for just 24 days before he was killed. so both of these notes were left in august of 1986. i assume they're from the same woman, although they both touch on two very different topics. in one, she's describing about how she was a nurse in vietnam, and she signs it, lieutenant dee baker, rn. the other one is talking about her husband tom, who died in
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vietnam, she signs it dana. the one when she was a nurse starts off, i went to vietnam to heal and came home violently wounded. i still awaken from nightmares about those we couldn't save. i went to vietnam to heal and came home to grieve for those who went home blind, paralyzed, mindless. i went to vietnam to heal and discovered i am not god. and then the other one, she talks about her husband tom. we would have been married 21 years this year. they got married when he was on leave in san diego and i assume they both went back to the war where he was killed. and so they were only married a very short time, but she saved this letter in honor of him 21 years later. we get a lot of very similar objects left at the wall. a lot of poems, a lot of cards,
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notes, and stuff like this. but this one was left just this past july. and it was pretty spectacular, i thought. and it doesn't look exactly like it did when it was left at the wall. but it was 13 letters. they were written by this young man, his name is jim arbuthnot, addressed to his girlfriend -- potential girlfriend back home. they are letters from when he was in basic training, up to when he was first in vietnam. and so he was enlisted -- well, i think he joined voluntarily, not drafted. jim went to vietnam in early 1966. and he learned quickly that he only had to serve five months,
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instead of the regular year-long tour, because of some previous experience, or some previous work that he had done, so he was very excited to get home and maybe get to know patricia, a little bit better, who he had just met before he went to vietnam. and so his letters kind of show him trying to get to know her personality. and they also show the type of things he was experiencing in vietnam, like just going there for the first time. the heat, the smells, you know, all these men around him, no women anywhere. and he just continued to send her letters until he was killed in march of 1966. he was only there for two months of his five-month tour before he was killed. so his last letter to patricia is dated 24th march 1966.
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and he was killed on march 30th, and the last thing he ever wrote to her was, it won't be long now. signed, jim. the collection, i feel like the purpose of the collection is to help people -- well, the purpose of the wall is to help people heal, to get over the things that happened to them in the past and to remember specifically the men who died in vietnam, and this collection kind of lends a helping hand to that. most people will leave things that are kind of folk art, just the process of making a craft helps them heal. there's a lot of things in the collection that have to do with ptsd. so we have a lot of ptsd groups that do a therapy group, they make something and leave it at
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the wall. that's helping their healing process. and then we have a lot of things that give just a little bit more information about a specific soldier's wife. so when you go to the wall, you see all the names on the wall, but the collection kind of gives a little background history to those names. as long as somebody has left something for a specific person, we can tell just a little bit more about that person's life. so that's really, i think, the purpose of the collection. >> i am a history buff. i do enjoy seeing the fabric of our country and how things -- just how they work and how they're made. >> i love american history tv, the presidency, they have fantastic shows. >> that's probably something i'd enjoy. >> and with american history tv, it gives you that perspective. >> i'm a c-span fan.
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each week american history tv's american artifacts visits museums and historic places. and up next, we travel to philadelphia's independence national historical park to learn about congress hall. the meeting place of the u.s. house and senate between 1790 and 1800. our guide is park ranger matthew aifel. >> we are in the old house of representatives in a building we call congress hall. originally, it was built as a county courthouse for philadelphia. for most of its history, that's what it was. in the years that the city of washington, d.c. is being built, philadelphia serves as our temporary u.s. capital. this room serves for the house of representatives, the second floor of the building that we will see in a moment was the united states senate. the house of representatives, each representative at that point in our history represented 30,000 people. we had a population at our first census of about three and three-quarters million.
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we had 106 members of the house would sit in this room. and eventually, from 16 states. the story of philadelphia as the u.s. capital is the story where we take a new constitution and actually operating it, doing things like adding new states to the original 13. also the bill of rights would become a part of our constitution while philadelphia was the capital. in fact, secretary of state thomas jefferson would announce the amendments to the constitution by basically coming to congress here in this building and officially announcing that we've changed our constitution. which of course the bill of rights is a huge part of our history and will be in the future, a continuing talking point on political life. but also, it's the amendment process itself. we're proving that that part of the constitution works, that we can update and make changes to that constitution without having to start completely over again
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from the beginning. but really, for this building, it's to a large degree -- it is creating the american political system. the two party system that we know today is going to begin here. and it's going to begin with issues much as you would expect. early issues that we face as the united states would be debt. we had debt and spending arguments and debates in this building. it's not any different except for the details as to what we do today in washington, d.c. we argue about debt from the revolutionary war, our early government alexander hamilton, treasury secretary wanted all the debt from the states to come to the federal government and then to use that debt paying it off to build credit for the young united states. not everybody agreed with his plans. so you start seeing division. and then foreign policy questions would arise. britain and france go to war in the 1790s. a lot of americans would feel like we owed france.
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they helped us in our war. we still don't like the british very much. for george washington, the first president, the notion of neutrality is preferable. we don't really have any money. we didn't really have a navy at all. and our army was not much to speak of. so we certainly weren't in a position to go and fight a war. certainly not in europe and probably not even fighting our neighbors in british canada in those days. so he is going to present with his cabinet approval a neutrality proclamation which starts dividing us into this question of ought we be doing more to help france. in the same notion of keeping us out of war, george washington will send john jay, who was at that time our first chief justice of the supreme court, send him to britain to negotiate a new treaty with the british. with the idea of keeping us out of this european war and settling some of those questions of border and ocean rights and
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such that we were arguing with the british. john jay had been on the team that negotiated the peace treaty that ended the revolutionary war. he seemed like a good candidate for washington to send. the treaty that he brought back becomes very controversial and one of the tipping points in creating the two parties as sort of leading to what we know today. the treaty is basically starts becoming publically attacks in the press. the press of the -- what would become the democratic republican party, the party of thomas jefferson and james madison would start vilifying this treaty. what's interesting is nobody has read it. it hasn't been published. but yet, it's going to be pilloried in the press to people -- to the point where a lot of people hate this treaty that they don't actually know anything about. the federalist side, of the john adams and alexander hamiltons, is in favor of the treaty.
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they are in favor of building the young economy of the united states, staying out of a war, trading with all sides in europe, not being limited by alliance to france or something like this. so we're really seeing this treaty become kind of of a symbolic head point between these two sides. and the senate approves the treaty. now according to the constitution senate approves treaties and they're done. the problem is the house of representatives -- this is our first treaty ever. the house of representatives says, we want a chance to discuss this treaty as well. and so they demand of washington to see all the papers and so on. well, he says, no. senate approves it. you don't have anything do with it. what the house essentially is going doing is they say, maybe what we will try do is take away the funding. we won't pay for this treaty. anything that has to be paid for, we will not spend the money. therefore, the treaty will die
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at this point this time. that's not necessarily a new strategy that you see with things in washington, d.c. today. so the big fight in the house of representatives in this room is whether or not to pay for this treaty. there's days of debates. on the last day, there's a big crowd in our public balcony. you have men like vice president john adams, supreme court justices in the balcony. the big -- this is, of course, an era where we love speeches, long, political speeches, deep, infused with rhetoric. the best speaker of the time is a man named fisher ames. he is a federalist. he is definitely wanting this treaty to survive. he has been ill. he hasn't said anything. of course, this last day everyone is waiting to see if he will make the last statement. he does. he says, if my strength can hold up, i would like to say a few words on the subject. he proceeds to speak for over an
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hour. it's about 55 pages in the congressional record, his speech. he collapses at the end into his seat. but he talks about the last war we fought with the british and if people remembered the all the devastation and did we really want to do this again, fight another war for years. apparently, some of the men have tears in their eyes. when he finally finishes, a supreme court justice turns to the vice president and says, my god, isn't that man great. adams says, yes, indeed, he is. so the treaty will end up passing by just a couple of votes. at one point there is a committee of the whole vote, the head of the committee was friend frederick muhlenberg, our first speaker of the house. he breaks the tie. he is on the democratic republican and jefferson side.
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he should be against it. he is convinced maybe not going to war is a good idea. he ends up voting to pass the bill for the funding of this treaty. and he is vilified. he is vilified that he voted for this treaty against his side to the point where he loses his seat in his next election to congress. but even worse, in the short-term, he is stabbed on the sidewalk of philadelphia by his brother-in-law because of his vote. he survives but i'm sure family gathers become a little awkward for a while. but it tells us how high our political tensions can be in our early days. yet, yet at the same time, we're also proving that that new constitution, despite the difficulties, works. probably the best day in this room's history in a lot of ways is the day john adams is naurg inaugurated by the speaker of the house's platform. he will stand on the platform with thomas jefferson at the front of the room, outgoing president george washington. this is a big deal. changing presidents for us today is a fairly normal thing. we have parades and parties. it's a big thing. but this was a really important


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