There’s Something Happening Here …


Posted by the University of Texas-Austin, Nick Ut won the Pulitzer Prize for this photo of the aftermath of a napalm air raid. The girl whose clothes were burned off did survive.

Posted by the University of Texas-Austin, Nick Ut won the Pulitzer Prize for this photo of the aftermath of a napalm air raid. The girl whose clothes were burned off did survive.

The suggestion came out of the blue.

We were in a faculty meeting today, discussing possible topics for the Fall Faculty Series (we have to come up with a better name for this thing). In 2014, Mount Mercy University had a very successful series about the 100th anniversary of World War I. Our faculty leaders and departments agreed that repeating the idea of a fall series would be good, and came up with suggestions for fall 2015:

  • Magna Carta 800th anniversary.
  • Baseball 170th anniversary (could be in 2016, too—rules written in 1845, first game in 1846)
  • Woodstock
  • The Death Penalty
  • Silent Spring—Politics and the environmental movement.

Going into the meeting, “Silent Spring” seemed to have the most vocal supporters. But just as I listed the ideas for the faculty, a hand went up. Joe Nguyen, a chemistry professor, suggested Vietnam. Although the Tonkin Gulf Resolution was passed in August 1964, the big U.S. troop surge was in 1965—and the war ended in 1975. So it’s both the 50th and 40th anniversaries of important dates associated with that undeclared war.

You could tell, in the room, that a wave of enthusiasm quickly built behind the newest idea. I called up Joy Ochs, an English professor, to be our human applause-o-meter (think “That Thing You Do”). It was quickly clear that the top two ideas were Silent Spring and Vietnam, and when it came down to those two, the consensus quickly formed.

From commons.wikimedia.org, U.S. Army map of 1968 Tet Offensive.

From commons.wikimedia.org, U.S. Army map of 1968 Tet Offensive.

I have no details yet—this news is hot off the faculty meeting and there have been no planning meetings or call for volunteers or cultural affairs proposals, etc.

But we are going to do it again—have a “large conversation” in the fall, spearheaded by faculty.

And the topic, which already generated tons of helpful suggestions at the faculty meeting, will be the legacy of the Vietnam War.

Well, cool. Let the planning begin.

Anyway, any ideas for a title? My first is: “There’s Something Happening Here: The Legacy of the War in Vietnam.”

Play it, Buffalo:

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3 Comments

Filed under History, Mount Mercy

3 responses to “There’s Something Happening Here …

  1. Unlike the World War I topic, you can have some men speak who actually fought in Vietnam.

    • CRGardenJoe

      Steve, that is an excellent idea. We possibly, due to migration to the U.S. from Vietnam and areas around it, have some Vietnamese veterans from ARVN or the Hmong people. And we may have a number of veterans on the faculty. We won’t always want to pick a war as a topic, but this one is more recent and does resonate a lot today.

      • I found out in my union work that the two biggest Hmong communities in the United States are in the Twin Cities and Fresno, CA. When I was reporter in Carroll, I went to a sixth-grade veterans interview day in Lake View. One of the most interesting guys was a mechanic who was a Vietnam vet. The emotion he spoke with about his experiences made his experiences very real. Sometimes the common “Joes” are the best.

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