Chapter 451 in Baltimore, MD played a pivotal role in the success of Maryland Public Television’s most expensive event ever—LZ Maryland—a celebration of Maryland’s Vietnam War veterans.
Chapter member John Bartkowiak worked on the event for four years. “It was very important to me that our chapter get involved, ” Bartkowiak said. One of his responsibilities was to put together a traveling exhibit of Vietnam War artifacts. “I solicited donations from chapter members, as well as other Maryland Vietnam veterans and their families, ” he said.
Dennis Noah, another chapter member, visited Maryland schools and libraries where the artifacts were on display. Noah was also featured in the three-part documentary series, Maryland Vietnam War Stories, which aired on MPT leading up to ‘LZ (Landing Zone) Maryland’. It can be found online at http://vietnam.mpt.org/home
Chapter 451’s honor guard performed the flag folding ceremony.
Inside the Exhibition Hall tall banners were displayed in rows along the far side wall. Each one profiled a Maryland Vietnam War veteran, providing information about his or her service record—branch, assignments, missions, and mission dates—and where in Maryland they were from. A long row of tables featured artifacts donated by Chapter 451 members and other veterans. There were original c-rations wrapped in brown paper and dozens of service patches. Mannequins were dressed in camouflage gear.
At a writers hooch that included VVA’s Ken Williamson, writers read from their work. A screening room featured MPT’s documentary series. Close by, a stage run by the Vietnam Education Project presented interpretive dance programs by local high school students, as well as programs on the health effects of Agent Orange and on VA health care services. Television screens throughout the building ran clips from interviews with Maryland Vietnam veterans.
Outside of the Exhibition Hall was a Basic Training obstacle course, which participants were welcome to try. Across from Basic Training was an enormous map of Vietnam the size of a small soccer field laid out on the pavement of a parking lot. Afterward, the map was donated to the Maryland Historical Society. A second exhibition hall contained more booths and commercial vendors. In one corner, children colored Huey choppers in crayon, while local bands played music from the Vietnam War era.