About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for Women Vietnam Veterans: Our Untold Stories

Good afternoon. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States. Thank you for coming today to hear about women Vietnam veterans. I’m glad you could be with us this afternoon, whether you are here in the William G. McGowan Theater or joining us through YouTube or C-SPAN.

Before we hear from Donna Lowery about women in military service during the Vietnam War, I’d like to tell you about the programs we are presenting in this theater today and tomorrow.

This morning we opened our new exhibit, “Remembering Vietnam,” and we’re celebrating that opening with a full slate of public events. When you entered the building, you must have seen the three Bell helicopters parked outside. At 4:30 today, you’ll have a chance to learn more about the aircraft from members of the North Carolina Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association, who will share their memories of their Vietnam experiences.

Tomorrow, November 11, we will present three more programs related to the exhibit. At 11 a.m., Frances O’Roark Dowell will help us see Vietnam through the eyes of a child as she discusses her book, Shooting the Moon. At two o’clock, we’ll show the film We Were Soldiers. And at 7 p.m., we will celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial with a panel discussion that will include the founder of Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Jan Scruggs.

To learn more about these 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. The Foundation 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.

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 interviews with American and Vietnamese veterans and civilians with first-hand experience of the war’s events as well as historic analysis. 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.

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.


Today we’ve come to hear about a very particular group of Vietnam veterans—the estimated one thousand women from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force who served as intelligence analysts, flight controllers, clerk-typists, translators, physical therapists, dietitians, communications specialists, and much more.

In her book Women Vietnam Veterans, Sergeant Major Donna Lowery tells their overlooked story.

In her 26 years of service, Sergeant Major Lowery was First Sergeant of four units and served four overseas tours. In 1967, she was selected as one of the initial group of Army enlisted women to serve in Vietnam. After her retirement from the Army, she worked for the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. Since her retirements, she has been active in her community and received one of the Governor’s 50 Volunteer Awards for her work with the homeless in 2010, and also received the Washington State Outstanding Woman Veteran award for 2011.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Sergeant Major Donna Lowery.