VVA’s Chapter 604 in Topeka, Kansas, is sponsoring a tribute to Americans troops in Iraq and Afghanistan on June 14, at 11:00 a.m. Central Time, at that city’s Kansas Expocentre. The tribute, called The Reading, will include patriotic songs and a solemn reading of the names of those service personnel who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As names are read, placards with the fallen troops’ names, date of death and home state will be displayed on the stage by family members and other supporters. A bell will be rung and silenced for each of the 4,533 names. The placards will be given to family members or displayed on a hillside adjacent to the Expocentre. That night, members of the local Junior ROTC will stand vigil over the names. Members of Chapter 604 will give a 21-gun salute and a Taps will be played.
For more information, go to www.thereading.us
Posted on May 27th 2008 in Events
Lindy Poling, the much-honored Millbrook (N.C.) High School social studies teacher, helped create one of the nation’s most innovative and extensive Vietnam War history classes, the pioneering “Lessons of Vietnam,” after she and two other teachers returned from an educational study tour in Vietnam in 1996. She started teaching the course that year to seniors at Millbrook, a Raleigh, North Carolina, public school.
This unique class includes presentations from as many as 25 guest speakers; a three-day annual trip to Washington, D.C., where the students visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; and “linking” each student with a Vietnam veteran. “My students have Vietnam veteran pen pal links (mostly via e-mail) from all over the U.S. Some are local, and some even live abroad,” Poling told us. “Some of our classroom speakers are from Raleigh, but many come from the Washington, D.C., area and other far away places.”
Poling and her Lessons of Vietnam students also publish Bridges, an excellent newsletter that we have been pleased to mention favorably in the “Arts of War” column in The VVA Veteran. The latest issue, a Special Edition, is now on the World Wide Web. It includes student-written articles about war correspondents, the upcoming Vietnam Veterans Memorial Visitor Center, and a report on the class’s most recent field trip to D.C. Take a look at: http://mhs.wcpss.net/academics/poling/Bridges/2008/SpEd_Spring08.pdf
Posted on May 27th 2008 in In the Classroom
Are you ready for another Vietnam War comedy? Ready or not, here comes Tropic Thunder, a big Hollywood film from Dreamworks Pictures. The movie stars Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downey Jr. as neurotic actors making an in-country Vietnam War film. Tropic Thunder, which Stiller co-wrote and directed, will hit the nation’s multiplexes on August 15.
This movie within a movie has generated a bit of pre-premiere publicity because the character Downey plays is an ultra-method actor who takes on a role that was written for a black actor. So Downey, a white man, gets made up to play an African-American.
“If it’s done right, it could be the type of role you called Peter Sellers to do 35 years ago,” Downey told US magazine. “If you don’t do it right, we’re going to hell.”
This will be, by my count, the fourth Vietnam War-themed movie comedy. The first one–Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)–was hysterically funny, for about 20 minutes. Then the humor vanished when the plot got serious. Robin Williams was a stitch, but the movie sunk when he moved into the jungle and faced the war head on. Air America (1990) and Operation Dumbo Drop (1995)–had their moments, but were nothing special. Forrest Gump (1995) had plenty of funny moments, but that did not include its realistic in-country Vietnam War scene.
The film’s website, www.tropicthunder.com contains, among other things, links to trailers. And there’s a good article on the Downey situation in the British Daily Mail.
Posted on May 15th 2008 in Feature Films
Between the Lines is a new documentary film that looks at the Vietnam War through the lives of California surfers Pat Farley and Brant Page—one of whom, Farley, was drafted and sent to Vietnam, and the other who fled to Hawaii to avoid serving, and to keep surfing. The film contains archival footage, including GI’s surfing at China Beach and elsewhere in South Vietnam, along with home movies and interviews.
The filmmakers are publicizing the documentary with benefit screenings. That includes one that will be held on June 26 at Hansen Surfboards in Encinitas, California, to benefit the Rick Thomas Veterans Counseling Center in San Diego.
For more info, go to the documentary’s website, http://betweenthelinesfilm.com/
Posted on May 15th 2008 in Documentaries
Bruce Kravetz is a professional photographer in Philadelphia and former 101st Airborne Division paratrooper. He is working on a photo essay on Iraq and Vietnam War veterans, and looking for help. Kravetz wants to hear from veterans who are amputees or those with “other forms of disfiguring war trauma,” who live in or near New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, or Washington D.C., areas.
The project, Kravetz tells us, “is proposed for public display and intended to provoke thought and understanding. There is no specific political bias intended on my part.” Participation and comments from veterans, he says, “will give this project its form.” Veterans’ opinions, he says, “of this important subject are what matters.”
For more info, go to his website, www.brucekravetz.com, call 215-483-4342, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on May 15th 2008 in Artistic Queries
The number has now reached 58,260. The number, that is, of names etched on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Four additional names were added to The Wall during the second week of May. Those of:
• Marine Lance Cpl. Raymond Mason of Bristol, Rhode Island., who was seriously wounded during Tet ’68, and who died as a result of those wounds in 2006.
• Marine Lance Cpl. Richard M. Goossens of Racine, Wisconsin, who received multiple gunshot wounds on May 12, 1968, and who died in 2004.
• Army Spec4 Dennis O. Hargrove of Burns, Tennessee, who was severely wounded on May 10, 1969, and who died in 1987.
• Army Spec4 Darrell J. Naylor of Balko Beaver, Oklahoma, who was wounded on April 14, 1967, and who died in 2006.
The names, which were added to The Wall as closely as possible to their dates of casualty, will become “official” when they are read aloud during the annual Memorial Day Ceremony at The Wall on Monday, May 26.
For more info, see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s detailed press release at
admin on May 12th 2008 in Memorials
The latest production of Shirley Lauro’s oft-performed play, A Piece of My Heart, based on the oral history of Vietnam War women veterans by the same name, is being put on by the Red Fern Theatre Company at New York City’s 78th Street Theatre Lab (located at 236 West 78th Street at Broadway) under the direction of Melanie Moyer Williams. A portion of the tickets sales for this production are going to the Vietnam Women’s Memorial.
The run began May 1 and goes through May 11. There will be special appearances by some of the women whose stories are in the book and play, with Q&A, following the performances on May 8, 9 and 10. For more info, go to: http://www.redferntheatre.org/red_fern_theatre_home.asp
admin on May 8th 2008 in Drama
Last week I became the 99th member of the new veterans’ social networking website, iVeteranUS. On this free service any veteran can have his or her own page, to which you can add photos, videos, and text. Members also have access to the site’s groups (one of which is for VVA members and one of which is sponsored by VVA Chapter 324 in Milwaukee), blogs, discussions, and other services. Of course, you get to see a bunch of ads, too, but that’s part of the business of the World Wide Web. Check it out at http://www.iveteran.us
admin on May 6th 2008 in Arts on the Web
“Semper Fidelis: How I Met My Father” is the title of a new mixed-media fine art exhibition that will be on view from May 23 (Memorial Day) to July 7 at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, which is located right off I-95 south of Quantico, Virginia. The exhibition is a combination of Hubbard’s work in ceramics, photography, and graphic design. It includes USMC reports, letters written by Hubbard’s Marine Corps Vietnam veteran father, and archival photos of Hubbard, senior, who was killed in Vietnam was his son was just two years old.
For more info, go to the museum’s website, http://www.usmcmuseum.org/index.asp
Click here for a virtual look at Tom Hubbard’s work.
admin on May 6th 2008 in Museums
Vietnam veteran Ted Engelmann is an accomplished photographer, teacher, and writer who divides his time between Denver and Hanoi. Much of his artistic work deals with the Vietnam War, Vietnam War veterans, and Vietnam, the country. You can get a good idea of the scope and quality of his work at Engelmann’s website, http://tedengelmann.com/index.html
Engelmann served with the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam from 1968-69 at Bien Hoa Air Base, with a Forward Air Control team directing tactical air strikes in support of the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division, and with Advisory Team 55 in the fishing village of Rach Gia, on the west coast of the Mekong Delta.
admin on May 6th 2008 in Arts on the Web