Welcome Remarks for "Remembering Vietnam: The 50th Anniversary of the U.S. Marines’ Victory at the Battle of Dai Do"
Good afternoon, 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 with us today, whether you are here in the theater or joining us through YouTube.
We are honored to welcome our special guests—veterans of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, who are meeting in Quantico, Virginia, this week to commemorate the Dai Do anniversary. We are pleased that you have made the National Archives part of your agenda—and have had an opportunity to tour our exhibit, “Remembering Vietnam.” Special thanks to Rose Marie Wilcox for her invaluable assistance with the arrangements.
Today’s discussion on the Battle of Dai Do is one of several programs related to our “Remembering Vietnam” exhibit, which you can see upstairs in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery. “Remembering Vietnam” draws on National Archives records to explore the Vietnam War in 12 critical episodes and features interviews with American and Vietnamese veterans and civilians as well as historic analysis.
Before we get started with today’s program, I’d like to encourage you to return later this week for two other events in this theater.
At noon tomorrow, historian David Weinstein will discuss his latest book, The Eddie Cantor Story: A Jewish Life in Performance and Politics. This program is presented in celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month.
Then on Thursday, May 3, at noon, Colin G. Calloway will discuss his book, The Indian World of George Washington: The First President, the First Americans, and the Birth of a Nation.
Book signings will follow both of those programs.
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 at the table outside the theater 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.
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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 tonight’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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One of the most powerful features of the “Remembering Vietnam” exhibit is hearing the voices of veterans, giving the visitor a first-hand account of their experiences during the war. Since the exhibit opened last November, we have heard from many veterans here, sharing their own stories on this stage and even from the audience.
Anniversaries are always a time of reflection, and as we mark the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, we remember, share, and reexamine the events and experiences of those years.
We are fortunate today to have several veterans of the Battle of Dai Do with us. Published accounts and archival documents bring us close to distant events, but there is no substitute for hearing directly from history’s eyewitnesses.
To get our discussion started, I’d like to now welcome our moderator to the stage.
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Retired Brigadier General William “Wild Bill” Weise, a native of Philadelphia, served on active duty in the United States Marine Corps from 1951 to 1982. He went to boot camp as a private at Parris Island, South Carolina, in 1951, during the height of the Korean War. He retired from active duty at Parris Island as a brigadier general in 1982. In Vietnam he commanded the “Magnificent Bastards” of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, during some of the heaviest fighting of that conflict in 1967 and 1968.
His combat decorations include the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, two Legions of Merit, three Purple Hearts for wounds received in combat, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Gold Palm). In addition, his battalion received the Navy Unit Commendation “For outstanding heroism in action against insurgent communist forces in the northern I Corps Area, Republic of Vietnam, from 5 March to 31 May 1968.” Currently he is a director of American Heroes First Foundation, which supports wounded veterans and their families. For five years he co-chaired the Marine Corps Heritage Center Committee, which supported the founding of the National Museum of the Marine Corps.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Brigadier General William Weise.