More Than Self: Living the Vietnam War

Temporary Exhibition

On display November 11, 2017 - March 18, 2018

More Than Self: Living the Vietnam War

Almost 3,500,000 men and women served in Southeast Asia between 1964 and 1975.  Each of them has a story to tell and each story is solely unique. Sharing those stories of Vietnam veterans, More Than Self: Living the Vietnam War, highlights an exclusive selection from 650 oral histories preserved in the Atlanta History Center’s Veterans History Project

Accompanying their personal accounts are dozens of compelling photographs, documents, and artifacts that offer the realities of war to their experiences. Artifacts include an AR-15 rifle, a Viet Cong hand grenade, and a Montagnard crossbow crafted by native Vietnam inhabitants. The three demonstrate the distinct differences in weapons and combat techniques used by enemies and allies.

A nurse’s field jacket deepens her account of how she protected severely wounded men while under attack in an evacuation hospital. Photographs of Red Cross “Donut Dollies” near the front lines and a box of C-rations provide a simple glimpse into the daily life of the men and women in country. A terrifying telegram notified a navigator’s wife that her husband’s B-52 was shot down, while the striped garment he wore when imprisoned in the Hanoi Hilton reminds visitors of the brutality suffered by those who fell into enemy hands. 

In the U.S., images of protestors in Piedmont Park as well as a welcome-home sign propped against the front of a serviceman’s home provide two perspectives on the American public’s support for the war. While first-hand accounts of verbal and physical assaults on returning veterans expose the treatment of those lucky enough to make it back home. 

The Vietnam War was a polarizing, painful episode in U.S. history that dramatically influenced our current perspectives on patriotism, democracy, morality, and military and governmental authority. Whether they enlisted or were drafted, no one who served came home unchanged. 

These are but a few of their private stories. 

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