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tv   Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection  CSPAN  November 25, 2016 5:14pm-5:46pm EST

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do is help engage in dialogues about these issues, because they're ongoing, continuous in our society. there are news court cases and new groups constantly struggling for better access, equal access to civil rights. the mission is to preserve our country's heritage, in that we don't go and build museums about subjects that are important. we preserve places that were an integral part of that story. we believe that by preserves thor pieces, even if they're difficult stories to tell, like segregation and integration or japanese internment camps, that visitorses, whether from the u.s. or abroad, whether caucasian or african-american, you better understand the story when you're standing in the place where they events actually happened. there's something intangible in these places that you can feel the history resonating by being in these places that were.
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tomorrow american history tv is for more information about our travels, you're watching american history tv, all week gen and on holidays, too, only on c-span3. each we're "american artifacts" visits -- the vietnam collection since it opened in 1982. the collection are -- we visit the national parks resource center. to see a selection of items left at the wall. >> hi, my name is janet donlin. i work specifically for the vietnam veterans memorial collection, which is housed herous in landover, maryland.
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it's a center curatorial facilities for the capitol region parks, but the collection is housed entirely in this building. we are a collection of objects that are left at a memorial in d.c., the vietnam veterans memorial. visit ovrs come by the memorial every day, leave objects which our park rangers collect, and then every two weeks or so we do a pickup at the memorial, we bring them out here to the museum resource center, where we sort through them, and catalog them and make them a part of our collection. i have chosen from objects to show you from the collection. they kind of cover the range of topics that the collection interprets, including ptsd, prisoners of war, mothers and fathers who have lost children. there are objects going on display on a loan this afternoon, and i think they're a good example of the types of
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things in the collection. this was left at the wall in the '90s. this is part of a door in this man's room where he was in maybe high school or so. the note right here is from his brother, but it tells you the context of this -- of the scene you see here. he drew this on his door. it depicts a serviceman crouching over the body of maybe a dead soldier, and after he drew it, he drew his own name on the dog tags of the dead soldier. his mother was not okay with that. she didn't think that was very cool, so she make him erase it. soon after he went into the military, went to vietnam, and he was killed in action. and his brother cut this out of the door and brought it to the
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wall after he wrote michael's name again on the dog tags. so he left it at the wall for his brother. it tells the story, but -- big brother, you never made it home. here's the picture you drew on your bedroom door. you seemed so old to me when you went to vietnam, but now i know you were still a young man. i remember the things we did together, the motor psych the rides and handstands up the stairs. i always wanted to thank you for watching out for me. these are some of the objects that we have collected for po tenchally going on loan to the
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ronald reagan library. they're having an exhibit in november, so we have done some initial selections on them. we're wait fog them to maybe the final approvals, but they showcase what is in this collection, what things the collection speaks about. this one specifically is a really good example of something left from a mother to a son. this was left on veterans day in 19 3. it was left by a woman called eleanor wimbish, whose son william stocks, also known as spanky was killed in action in vietnam. she's been leaves this kind of objection since the wall was first dedicated. this one specifically mentions -- it was from '83, but this one mentions her diary that she wrote the year previous in 1982, she was there the day the wall was dedicated.
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she describes seeing his name on the wall for the first time, and you know, walking up to the wall, sees his name and what she felt sees his name, but then also looking around, seeing the other people around her also touching the names of their loved ones. so it describes how overwhelming that was for her. she continued to leave letters like this wrapped in plastic on a posterboard for at least 10, 15 years for her son. she would do it, you know, on his birthday, on the day he died, mother's day, veterans day, christmas, easter, things like that. just for the holidays that he missed. the day was unscenably warm and sunny when we arrived in washington did, c., we got out of the car. i could feel the pull towards
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this black wall and yet my feet didn't want to move. i was so scared. i was afraid i would find your name on the black wall and yet i was afraid some mistake had been made and your name had been left out. how does one try to explain such mixed emotions. i'll never forgets the day and your father and i started looking for your name. we had been looking for about a half hour when year father quiet think said honey, here he is. on it was like a bad dream. i felt as though earp freezings. god, how it hurt. i looked around at the people and up and down this black wall this memorial, thousands and thousands of names.
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the collection was started unexpectedly in 1982 from the very beginning of the memorial people started leaving them right from the dedication. 1 for those who came back and were wounded in action. it was an unexpected phenomenon that just sprung up out of nowhere. for two years, the park service wasn't sure what to do. it was unprecedented no one had ever -- no one had seen something like this happen before. for the first two years they kind of kept the objects isolated, you know, out of the way, trying to figure out what to do with them. in 1984, our previous regional curator decided to make this -- all the objects an official park service collection.
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so after 1984, it became an official park service collection. we started collecting things regularly, and we've been doing it ever since. the blue boxes are kind of an iconic what people see when they comes here to see the vietnam veterans memorial collection. they're made specifically for our collection. they're large, made out of the plastic that won't decay or cause damage to the objects, and they store all of the objects from the vietnam veterans memorial collection. this was a letter left for a man named gary from grit, left august 5th. 1989. the letter describes gary and grit's interaction in vietnam. so they were com rat in arms. apparently grit would always ask
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gary for the time, he never knew what time it was, even though he was a road operat -- radio oper. he always lost his, he called it his john wayne, which is the can opener, so he would always have to use gary's can opener. gary was killed after an explosive device detonated here him. the letter describes how grit held him in his arms as he grew cold and he wouldn't let him go. finally in 1989, he decided to leave his watch and can opener at the wall for gary. it was gary jenks. he's on the wall. this flag and note were left on the ten year anniversary of the wall. it was left by john sparks, who
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was a prisoner of war for five years in vietnam. he coincidentally has done an oral history project with the library of congress, which is very interesting. if you want to go there, you can hear about his experience as a prisoner of war. 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 toothpaste tube, and the tie is from his prison uniform. and right here there's a pin for the p.o.w./mia, and the note essentially saying he's dedicating his flag to all the others missing in act or prisoners of war in vietnam. a lot of time if they want to
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see the things they left, we are always willing to give them a tour. it also helps us, because we can connect specific names to donor toss 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 latrine, 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, you know, gave us a bit of context about what it was, and when they left it and why. so that's really cool. so there's some donors who are still active and want to see the things they left. so this, as you may or may not know is a roll of toilet paper, which you may be wondering why
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we have it in our collection, but toilet paper was as good as gold in vietnam. 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. so we get little rolls of toilet paper. he we get the little in the rations they were given sometimes alternates thing of toilet paper. we get those left at the wall, 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 that says the jungle won't watch out, the sounds, the smells, like the waves that come and go in the ocean in my mind, the memories remain. left in 1992. these two fraps were le-- photographs were left in 1993.
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the women's memorial is dedicated to the women who served and died in vietnam. you adopt often talk about the women of the war. there were 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 military. but these are photographs of doughnut dollies, who are essentially american red cross volunteers. those were the other 60 women who died, were either volunteers or something of that sort, often were nurses in vietnam. they staffed the field hospitals. so these two are dedicated to the boys at cameron army, and it says all gave some, some gave all, and it lists the ladies of the american red cross. they were there are from
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november 1971 to january 1972. this object was left on june 4th, 1992. it has a countdown of 365 numbers, which 365 days is the standard tour that veterans served in vietnam. we don't have background information or note, but i assume he printed this out and had days he had to serve. it's titled the long road home. on the bottom it says my vietnam holiday. and this is really interesting, because as he was crossing off the days, he would put a little more information about what like his 280th day was. you know, he point here, 269th day was xm lz 2, so in the hump
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his first anniversary, it doesn't describe what the anniversary is, but it just, you know -- i'm assuming as he would experience a day, he would cross it off. fourth of july, 62nd day -- he only had 62 more days, man has landed on the moon, and then his last five davis, it says five day drop. here he sill caution, vietnam may be hazardous to your health. this is what we see often for, you know -- we get a lot of things from short-timers, people when had 30 days or less in vietnam, so we have a short of
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short-timer sticks where they would notch off the days. we had a lot of calendars counting down the days. the park service is guided by certain rules we follow, the an tick wits act, the organic act that kind of -- i don't know, they set the basis for all museum collections in our nation, and specifically for us, our collection is guided by a scope of collections statement. every museum collection in the parks service has a specific scope of collections statement. that dictates what we keep for the collection, what we are interested in our themes, what we are interested in interpreting to the collection, what falls within our parameters, and also tells you what does not fall one the parameters of the collection. once they are brought here, we
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do what we call processing. that's kind of sorting through them, putting things together, that go together if they were left by the same person or same group of people. we cull things that we can't keep. that includes organic items like flowers, leaves, stuff that could not become part of a collection, food. we don't keep things that are hazardous to our health, obviously. that would include things like live ammunition, stuff like that. and we don't keep unaltered unpersonalized things like, united states flags, miniature flags that no one has written anything on. once we process it, we put them into archival standard containers, bags, folders, stuff like that, and then it gets cataloged into our cataloging database, and then we can use the objects for interpretation,
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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 cat loss number, which kell see right here, this is the succession number, when we received it into our collecon and as you can see, they're nicely folded. they have tags that we'll associate them if we have to take it out of the bag, we know what catalog number it is. we, you know, tie up nicely american flags, and we put our kifl objects, which is payable objects in they folders, and it's all organized that way.
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so if i need to pull something for a researcher or exhibit or something, i can look into our database, and it will tell me where the objects is. i go to that box, and fairly easy to find, either in our folders or in a bag. this box is all one success succession. this box i think is from around the ten-year anniversary, maybe just after the ten-year anniversary which was november 1992, so maybe around christmastime, which is why you would see these types of ribbons, you know, bows, stuff like that. >> so the oldest box in here would be 1984? >> we have four boxes from the two-year period 1982 to 1984
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when they were just initially collecting things. this is one of them right here. you can see it's a lot of the same types of things in the other box, and same types of things being left today. a lot of patches, pins, batching of all kinds, cap ullr, like religious items. we have a lot of newspaper clippings, what we call documentary artifacts. it's the largest category of objection left at the wall, inclusion letters, notes, poems, clippings, greeting cards, business cards, things like that. we get a lot of flags a lot of
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plaques. so this card was left in 2000, left by ellen for barry, 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, about you you remain in my heart. as i visit the memorial wall today in washington, d.c., i leave with you the ring i gave you on your 18th birthday. always know i love you still, though i'm married and have three beautiful children, laura named after your sister, blake and rayna. i will mower for the family we were never given a chance to have. when the lord takes me home, i know i will meet you again and share many memories. so this left and the trophy were left on october 30th for joseph
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craig peters. i believe it was left by hi son. 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 course 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 those who will yet depend on us. it's a beautiful day, we would be playing golf, i would be beating you by two strokes, sucker. always, michael. it has a peace pendant a it. so we have to kind of infer the background information for this. maybe they would always play golf together before his dad went away to war.
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we don't really know. this note is all we have. this is is monica, and the note was left on october 10th, 1985. it was in an envelope addressed to gary thomas. he served as a radio telegraph operator. i leave mere harp here at the wall for you to blow in heavenly blue foss all those you left behind in this vale of tears. i miss you daily. so this is an in-country photograph left at the wall on august 9th, 1989. 2 depicts 1st and ted platoon, c company, 1st battalion marines.
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they're honoring three dead. on the back he wrote what we knew of the member. one he named was robert sawaya. the other he called the new guy, and the other he called mr. point. i looked -- i can look up the names. mr. sawaya was killed on december 15th, 1967, so by looking at the people who were in a company, i found out the other two men are probably william edward pearson, who was the new guy and eddie lee jackson, who was mr. point. the chronology gave the reason for their deaths, company c, squad patrol was hid by a command detonated booby trap
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consisting of two or three artillery rounds, lead wires were found, 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. the new guise, mr. pearson, he had been in vietnam for just 24 days before he was killed. both of these notes were left in august of 1986. i assume they're from the same woman, though they both touch on two very different topics. in one she's describing about how she was a nurse in vietnam and sign it lt. dee baker, r.n. the other one is talking about her husband tom, who died in vietnam, and she signs it dana. the one when she was a nurse, i we want to vietnam to heal and came back wounded, i a. i went
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to vietnam to heal and came home to grieve for those we sent home blind, paralyzed, i went to vietnam to heal and discovered i'm not god. then the other bun 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. she leaves this letter in honor of him 20 years later. we get similar objects left at the wall. a lot of poems, cards, notes like this, but this one was left just this past july. it was pretty spectacular, i
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thought it doesn't look exactly like it did when it was left at the wall, being it was 13 letters, written about this young man, his name jim arbuthnot. they are letters from when he was in basic training up to ten from when he was first in vietnam. i think he joined voluntarily. jim went to vietnam in early 1966, and he learned quickly that he only had to serve five months instead of the reg hear year-long tour because of some previous experience or some previous work he had done. he was very, very excited to get home and know patricia a bit
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better, who he had just met before he went to vietnam, so the letters kind of show him putting his feelers out, trying to get to know her personality. they also show the types of things he was experiencing in vietnam. the heat, the smells, you know, all these men around him, no women anywhere, and he continued to send her letters until he was killed in march of 1966. he was only there for two months of his five months tour before he was killed. his last letter to pa twrisha is dated 24th march, 1966, and he was killed on march 30th. the last thing he ever wrote to her was "it won't be long now." signed jim.
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i feel like the purpose of the collection -- 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 american who died in vietnam. the collection lends a helping hand to that. people will leave things that are folk art, the pros of making a craft makes them heal. there's a lot of things in the collection that have to do with ptsd. we have a lot of groups that do a therapy group, and they make something and leave it at the wall, and then we have a lot of things that give just more information about a specific soldier's life. when you go to the wall, you see all the names on the wall, but the collection kind of gives
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background history to those names, as long as something has left something for a specific person, we can tell more about that person's life. i think that's the purpose of the collection. 100 years ago this past august, president wood row wilson created the national parks service. today we're feature national and historic sites. this is america history tv, only on c-span3. the 16th treat baptist church was built had 187 is, and was called the first baptist church for colored people. it moved to this site around 1883, and moved here because of the land that it was o

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