Avon Library Commemorates Vietnam War

Vietnam Commemoration Project Description
In May, 2012, President Obama proclaimed a commemoration to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War. The purpose of the commemoration is to honor veterans and their families, recognize contributions and sacrifices made at home, provide Americans with a clear understanding and history of the Vietnam War, and recognize the contributions of civilian organizations to the war effort.
The Commenoration Objectives are:

( 1 ) To thank and honor veterans of the Vietnam War, including personnel who were held as prisoners of war or listed as missing in action, for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States and to thank and honor the families of these veterans.

( 2 ) To highlight the service of the Armed Forces during the Vietnam War and the contributions of Federal agencies and governmental and non-governmental organizations that served with, or in support of, the Armed Forces.

( 3 ) To pay tribute to the contributions made on the home front by the people of the United States during the Vietnam War.

( 4 ) To highlight the advances in technology, science, and medicine related to military research conducted during the Vietnam War.

( 5 ) To recognize the contributions and sacrifices made by the allies of the United States during the Vietnam War.

Locally, our commemoration was initiated by Bill Newman, a Vietnam veteran and member of the Avon’s VFW Post 3272, as part of the national commemoration to honor Vietnam vets and their families. In March 2013, Post 3272 was designated as a commemorative partner of the 50th Anniversary by the Department of Defense. In July 2013, Bill Newman contacted Avon librarians Tina Panik and Patrice Celli with the idea of collaborating on the project.

The commemoration was planned by Vietnam veterans Bill Newman, Jim Hutton and Bob Skeels, as part of a national commemoration to honor Vietnam vets and their families. They were joined by librarians Tina Panik and Patrice Celli who planned the commemorative series that included an Vietnam War artifact exhibit, veterans talks, a POW/MIA flag raising and Missing Man Ceremony.

The first phase of the commemoration, “Our Service in Vietnam” began in September 2013 with an exhibit in the Avon History room that included mememotos, uniforms, war correspondence, posters, and helmets from Vietnam. Veterans volunteered on Saturdays to give the public tours of the artficacts and history behind the items.

After the history room exhibit concluded, a gallery show titled, “Our Service in Vietnam: In Our Own Words” was set up in the Avon Library’s art gallery. It featured the ongoing oral history project initiated by Bill Newman, historian of Post 3272, to capture veterans’ stories of survival and insight during wartime. The photographic and text disiplay featured all 60 Vietnam vets. They served as infantrymen, artillerymen, tankers, engineers, medics, pilots, crewmen, Sea-Bees and combat support personnel with Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force units in all four combat zones of Vietnam. A special display featuring Major Craig Nobert of Avon, and SFC Thomas Perry of Canton, who were killed in action. The public was invited to view the exhibit until December 31, 2013.

To launch the gallery show, Vietnam War Veterans Open House was held on November 2, 2013, where 22 veterans spoke to the public about their personal experiences during the war and displayed their wartime artifacts to an audience of over 100 in the library’s Community Room. This entire event was recorded, producing fresh oral history content for the Avon History Room.

Master List of Events
September 7 – October 31, 2013
Exhibit, “Our Service in Vietnam”
Artifacts, gear, maps, posters, featuring
personal experiences from veterans of Post 3272
September 20, 2013
National POW-MIA Recognition Day
10:30 am, POW-MIA Flag Raising and Color Guard
11:00 am, “Missing Man” Table Ceremony
11:15 am, POW-MIA talk

October 12, 2013 @ 1:00 pm
Vietnam Jungle War, 1968
Presented by Bob Skeels, Post 3272

October 18, 2013
12:00 pm Film “We Were Soldiers” Rated R
Bring your brown bag lunch, snacks provided
Q&A with veterans after the film

November 2 – December 31, 2013
Gallery Exhibit, “Our Service in Vietnam: In Our Own Words”
First person narratives of Vietnam veterans from Post 3272 on display, with photos
November 2, 2013, 1:00 to 3:00 pm; Introduction of Vets @ 1:30
Open House – Talks & Artifacts from Veterans from Post 3272
Talk to vets, hear their stories, gear & uniforms on display

November 13, 2013, 7:00 to 8:00 pm
Ambush Alley: A Company Commander Remembers His Soldiers, Convoys & Guntrucks
Presented by Bill Newman, Post 3272