War memorial exhibit to honor Vietnam vets

Written by Muleskinner Staff

By LEAH WANKUM
For the Muleskinner
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — The university has taken recent steps to recognize and honor local Vietnam War veterans.
The U.S. Department of Defense named UCM’s McClure Archives and University Museum as a commemorative partner of the Vietnam War.
Amber Clifford, associate professor of anthropology and director of the McClure Archives and University Museum, said she received notification of this new federal designation Nov. 18, and it will continue until 2019.
As a way to recognize and honor local Vietnam War veterans, the university is also hosting The Wall That Heals, a mobile, half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The program is scheduled from June 29 to July 2 and includes a mobile education center about the Vietnam War, a timeline of the Vietnam era in U.S. history, and letters and memorabilia left at The Wall in the District.
The Wall That Heals is a program of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and required an extensive and competitive application process for UCM to host, according to a university press release.
Clifford said the purpose of hosting The Wall That Heals is to provide learning opportunities for the UCM community to learn more about the Vietnam War, and to offer a place for local veterans and their families to view the memorial without having to travel to the District.
Part of UCM’s preparation for The Wall That Heals is a war exhibit at the McClure Archives and University Museum that opens in the spring. Clifford said the exhibit will focus on commemorating World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War, and how those three wars impacted Johnson County and, particularly, the university. The commemorative activities include the 100th anniversary of World War I, the 75th anniversary of World War II and the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. Clifford said the exhibit will include material from locals who engaged in any or all of those wars as well as films from World War II vets, which came from the Museum of Missouri Military History in Jefferson City.
“And we’re going to have a new project that’s going to be starting in the spring between some of my students and some KMOS students collecting video histories of Vietnam veterans in the county,” Clifford said. “There’s going to be a lot going on.”
Clifford said the university has never done anything like this before, in honoring local veterans, which is what makes the exhibit unique.
“What we’re going to be talking about this time is commemorating the war and how it changed UCM and the county, and we’re going to look at how those wars get remembered too,” she said. “It’s going to be really different. It’s going to be the perfect environment of The Wall That Heals to arrive because it’s about remembering and commemorating Vietnam War veterans.”
Clifford said one of UCM’s goals is to increase the number of students who understand and are committed to engaging in meaningful civic actions.
“For me, part of that idea of civic action is when you’re a college student, you understand war as a concept,” she said. “You hear about it in classes, but (war) is not necessarily what all of our students or even the majority of our students have gone through. We have some, but for a majority, that’s not the case. Even for students who’ve gone through war, I think there’s a larger civic question about why we go to a war and, even more importantly, what the long-term effects something like war is on a community.”
At an academic level, Clifford said she thinks war and its effects are mostly explained on the international level but are not necessarily understood at a small community level, for a town, a neighborhood or a family.
“Part of (what) civic responsibility has to be is understanding the long-term effects that a decision like going to war has on the community that you’re a part of,” she said.
For more information about The Wall That Heals, visit thewallthatheals.org. For more information about the spring exhibit, visit ucmo.edu/museum or contact Clifford at 660-543-4877 or [email protected]