During my school years, History class usually ended with the Civil War and Reconstruction. If the teacher was doing really well, we might do a brief overview of World War II and cover Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I don’t remember the Vietnam War ever being mentioned. I knew there was a lot of turmoil surrounding the Vietnam War. I knew that my dad was on an aircraft carrier somewhere out in the ocean during the Vietnam War. I knew that when we visited the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C, he cried. I am embarrassed to say that I didn’t realize until I was an adult that my dad’s story is part of mine. Those who served and lived during the time of the Vietnam War make up part of our story. We can learn so much from those who have gone before us. We can learn from their brave deeds. We can learn from their mistakes. We can learn from their triumphs. What made my dad and other brave men and women decide to serve our country is worth remembering as we wake each morning and breath freely.
As pictures from Vietnam flashed across the screen, I was entranced. My two sons and I were enraptured as Charlene Edwards used her photographs to weave the story of the Vietnam War and its impact. Photographer and writer, Edwards recently gave a presentation recounting her journey through Vietnam where she interviewed many of those who wear internal and external scars from the war. Her uplifting presentation featured many of the photographs and stories from her book, “Voices From Vietnam.” Her stories include those from soldiers, nurses, Amerasians, Americans who chose Canada over Vietnam, “boat people,” family members of POW, MIA and KIA, and others who watched in horror as the first-ever televised war entered their homes. Overall, her mission focuses on peace and healing the wounds of the Vietnam War. As my boys and I left the presentation, I felt sad for those who suffered so much during the Vietnam War and all wars. However, as my boys ran ahead of me on their strong legs. I felt grateful for all they had given us.
The first time I visited the Vietnam Memorial, I was six. I didn’t understand about war or sacrifice. I wanted to go to the zoo. The second time I visited the Vietnam Memorial, I was a mother. I wanted to teach my boys about those who served our country and those who paid the ultimate price for us. Our stories involve tragedy and sacrifice, but if we chose our stories can involve healing and triumph.
A Journey Through Vietnam, a photography exhibit by Charlene Edwards will be in Eustis City Hall (10 North Grove Street, Eustis, FL, (352)485-5491) until May 12. Another Voices From Vietnam presentation and book signing followed by Lee Weaver’s play The Box will be presented on April 30 at 6:30 PM at the Bay Street Players Theater (109 N Bay Street, Eustis, FL, (352)357-777). To learn more or purchase Charlene Edward’s book, Voices from Vietnam, click here. The Vietnam Veterans Moving Wall will be in Eustis, Fl (213 North Eustis Street, Eustis, Fl) from April 27- May 1. For more information, visit, firstname.lastname@example.org. All events have free admissions, with donations appreciated.