Friday, September 18, 2015

The Opening of the Wall

Dr. Joe Nguyen at the opening ceremony.

Thursday night was an emotional one at MMU. The Moving Wall came to campus in the morning, and a rainstorm pelted down on the workers as they were midway through installation.

They powered through. They were men and women on a mission.

Later, after skies had cleared, I took part in the afternoon opening ceremony. It was very poignant. In particular, I felt a chill as an MMU student, a veteran, read the names of Linn County’s own who are on the wall—who died in the Vietnam War.

She chocked up a bit reading the names. I felt the same just listening.

Following the opening ceremony, that evening there was a panel discussion in Flaherty where Professor Joe Nguyen asked a panel of veterans some questions about their Vietnam experience.

Flaherty was packed for the veteran's panel. Joe Nguyen leads discussion.

There were three American veterans, and three from South Vietnam’s armed forces. One of those Vietnamese veterans, dressed in a crisp white naval uniform, was Joe Nguyen’s father. To say there was a charge of emotion in the room several times would be to understate it. I’ve never seen a room so packed that was, at times, so quiet and attentive.

Most presentations in our Fall Faculty Series “Stories We Tell: Legacies of the Vietnam War” will be less than an hour. Thursday’s panel went on for 90 minutes or so, and when it ended, I think most people in the room wished we could take a break and continue. There simply wasn’t enough time to hear all the stories these men had to share.
MMU Times student reporter at event.

This is a blog about “media,” which implies a channel through which communication passes (like this blog). But you can experience a small piece of the legacy of Vietnam in an unmediated way. A travelling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the famous “Wall” in Washington DC, is set up in the lawn in front of Warde Hall, which is why we had the Thursday events.

It’s a quiet corner of campus, which feels right. Come on down and see it for yourself.

And if you missed the great programs we had Thursday, remember that there is a whole series of events that goes into November. Use media—check out the MMU web site for more details.

More photos of the real stars of Thursday night: