About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for 35th Anniversary of The Wall

Good evening, and welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and I’m pleased you could join us here in the theater or through our YouTube channel for tonight’s program commemorating the 35th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, commonly known as “The Wall.”

We are honored to have as our special guests Jim Knotts, president and CEO of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund; author and historian Kristin Ann Hass; Duery Felton, Jr., Founding Curator of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection; and our moderator, Mark A. Lawrence, associate professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin.

We thank the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund for collaborating on the program and assisting us with compiling the images that will be shown as part of the discussion.

Tonight’s program is one in a series of discussions, film programs, lectures, and other events we are presenting in conjunction with our new exhibit, “Remembering Vietnam,” which opened yesterday in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery.

Another related program is coming up on Tuesday, November 14, at noon, when author James Wright will discuss his new book, Enduring Vietnam: An American Generation and Its War. A book signing will follow that program.

To learn more about this and all of our public programs and exhibits, consult our monthly Calendar of Events online at Archives.gov. Check our website or sign up to get email updates. You’ll also find information about other National Archives programs and activities.

Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. This program and the exhibit upstairs would not have been possible without the support of the Foundation which supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Pick up your application for membership in the lobby or become a member online at archivesfoundation.org.


And here to tell you more about the important work of the Foundation is A’Lelia Bundles, President of the National Archives Foundation Board.

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As I mentioned earlier, today’s program is one in a series of events we are presenting in conjunction with our new exhibit, “Remembering Vietnam,” which just opened in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery upstairs.

The exhibit is a media-rich exploration of the Vietnam War, featuring historic analysis as well as interviews with American and Vietnamese veterans and civilians with first-hand experience of the war’s events. It is a fascinating collection of newly discovered and iconic original documents, images, film footage, and artifacts that illuminate 12 critical episodes in the war that divided the peoples of both the United States and Vietnam.

“Remembering Vietnam” draws on National Archives records from all parts of our agency—federal civilian and military records, Presidential libraries, still photography and motion pictures, sound recordings, and electronic records.

I encourage you all to walk through the exhibit—if not today, then another time in the coming year.

This weekend’s exhibit opening programs are presented in part by L3 Technologies, Inc., and Bell Helicopter. Many thanks to them.

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Now I ask all Vietnam veterans or any United States veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time during the period of November 1, 1955, to May 15, 1975, to stand and be recognized.

Veterans, as you exit the McGowan Theater after today’s program, National Archives staff and volunteers will present each of you with the Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin. On the back of the pin is embossed:

“A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You.”

The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration is a national initiative, and the lapel pin is the nation’s lasting memento of thanks.

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And now it’s my pleasure to introduce our moderator.

Mark Lawrence is associate professor of history, Distinguished Fellow at the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, and Director of Graduate Studies at the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Assuming the Burden: Europe and the American Commitment to War in Vietnam and The Vietnam War: A Concise International History.  He has published an edited collection of primary sources entitled The Vietnam War: An International History in Documents, and co-edited four books: Nation-States and the Global Environment: New Studies in International Environmental History,
Beyond the Cold War: Lyndon Johnson and the New Global Challenges of the 1960s,
Beyond the Eagle’s Shadow: New Histories of Latin America’s Cold War,
The United States and the World: A History in Documents from the War with Spain to the War on Terror.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mark Lawrence and our distinguished panel.