The 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War will be remembered at the College of Southern Maryland this academic year with discussions, readings and special events to be held on all three campuses. CSM has partnered with the United States Vietnam War Commemoration, wherein several jurisdictions and institutions hold local events that highlight the efforts of Vietnam War veterans, as well as those who contributed on the home front.
Wayne Karlin, a CSM professor and a Vietnam veteran, said the college became involved when a student veteran, David Hollar, wrote to CSM President Brad Gottfried urging the college to take part in the commemoration. “[Hollar] said that this is something that we should be doing and the president agreed,” said Karlin, an author who teaches on the Vietnam War and its history, and is helping coordinate activities at the college.
CSM’s Vietnam War-related events include, among others, several tied into the long-running Connections series, which brings writers to the campuses for readings and discussions. Additional events are planned for April and May, including a panel discussion about the diverse experience of the many different groups impacted by the Vietnam War, and an additional Connections series event. Upcoming events include:
A panel discussion featuring CSM students and faculty members who are Vietnam veterans will be held November 11 at the La Plata Campus on Veterans Day. During that week, “The Things They Carried: A Display of Vietnam War Memorabilia” will be exhibited at the La Plata Campus. The memorabilia is from CSM students and faculty who are Vietnam veterans.
A roundtable discussion and a Connections presentation will be held November 15 with author Andrew Lam, who will read from his short story collection “Birds of Paradise Lost,” about Vietnamese immigrants who fled the country and moved to San Francisco, and his book of essays, “Perfume Dreams,” on the Vietnamese-American experience.
In February 2014, CSM’s Cause Theatre will present “ReEntry,” a docudrama about Marines getting ready for and returning from combat.
Karlin will present his book “Wandering Souls,” a non-fiction account of a Vietnam veteran who killed a North Vietnamese soldier during a chance encounter on a trail. The book recounts the story of the veteran, Homer Steedly, who eventually returned to Vietnam to present the soldier’s diary to his family. The book explores the parallels between the two men. The program will be February 28 at the La Plata Campus as part of the Connections series.
As part of the Connections series at the Leonardtown Campus March 28, authors Robert and Patience Mason will discuss their books, his experiences in the war and combat Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Robert Mason was a helicopter pilot in the First Air Cavalry in Vietnam and the author of “Chickenhawk.”
At the Leonardtown Campus, Vietnamese-American poet Teresa Mei Chuc will discuss and read from her poetry collection, “Red Thread,” as part of a Connections presentation April 4. Chuc, who escaped from Vietnam in a packed ship with her brother and mother, writes autobiographical poems. She will hold a roundtable discussion with students and faculty earlier in the day.
The college is also planning a travel course during summer 2014 to be led by Karlin. Students will spend two weeks traveling through the stunning landscapes and ancient and modern cities of Vietnam from south to north, using as “guides” the literature produced by both Vietnamese and American participants and historians. Students will meet with Vietnamese writers, scholars, students and veterans to become immersed in the history of the Vietnam War as well as the modern culture of Vietnam.
For information and updates on all commemoration events, visit http://www.csmd.edu/vietnamwar50th/events.html.
CSM to Exhibit Vietnam War Memorabilia, November 11-15 Vietnam Veterans Share ‘The Things They Carried’
The College of Southern Maryland presents the exhibit “The Things They Carried” as part of an integrated series of events celebrating Veterans’ Day and as part of its Vietnam War Commemoration program, 11 am to 7 pm, November 11 to 15 in the Center for Business and Industry, Besche Oil Conference Room, BI-124, La Plata. The exhibit features items saved and collected by soldiers during the Vietnam War, many of whom are current CSM students, faculty and staff.
“During and after Vietnam, many veterans felt that they were never really welcomed home by the country. Displaying these mementos now is a way of sharing their memories and personal histories with the community,” said CSM Professor Wayne Karlin, a Vietnam veteran.
The title comes from Tim O’Brien’s book “The Things They Carry,” as the personal mementos displayed represent the memories veterans still carry from the war. Items on display will include a Vietnam-era helmet, a flak jacket and a full set of green jungle utilities worn by the Army and Marines. Additional items include heat tabs used to heat C Rations in the field, a folding mess kit, medal and award certificates and correspondence, surrender leaflets, South Vietnamese paper and coin money, combat photos, medals and ribbons from the Vietnam War and more. A digitized display of Vietnam era photographs provided by CSM veterans will play continuously during the exhibit.
This exhibit is just one of many CSM events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. For a full list of Vietnam War Commemoration events, visit www.csmd.edu/VietnamWar50th or contact Karlin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 240-725-5451.