About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for Preservation of War: Vietnam—The Combat Artist Program

Good evening, and welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States. Whether you are here in the theater or joining us through YouTube, I’m pleased that you can be with us for “Preservation of War: Vietnam—The Combat Artist Program.”

Tonight’s discussion is part of our programming related to the “Remembering Vietnam” exhibit upstairs in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery. We are very pleased that our partner for this evening’s program is the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

Before we get started, I’d like to tell you about two programs—both about First Ladies—that are coming up this week.

Tomorrow at noon, author Sheila Tate will discuss her book, Lady in Red: An Intimate Portrait of Nancy Reagan. Tate focuses on the various roles that Mrs. Reagan played during her years in the White House and offers a rare glimpse into the life of a President’s wife. A book signing will follow the program.

And on Friday at noon, we’ll show the 2009 PBS documentary film Betty Ford: The Real Deal, which profiles Betty Ford, her time in the White House, her advocacy for equal rights, and the founding of the Betty Ford Center.

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.

As I mentioned at the outset, this program is related to our special exhibit, “Remembering Vietnam.”

Our curatorial staff combed through National Archives records here and across the country to find the documents that tell the stories recounted in the 12 episodes of the exhibit. These records came in many forms—typed reports, photographs, audio recordings, motion picture film and videotapes, artifacts.

Imagery of the Vietnam War in photographs and moving images is familiar—coverage of the war in print and television media was extensive and far-reaching. Less well known is the artwork created by artists in the field. In an age of cameras, paints and pencils would seem to be out of place. Combat art, however, preserves the human experience of war in a different, and unique, way.

The National Archives contains some of the founding documents of the Combat Artist Program. I hope you had an opportunity to see reproductions of some of these documents as you came into the theater, like the many letters hashing out details of the program, photos of combat artists, newspaper articles, and more.

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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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Now I’d like to invite Lin Ezell to the stage to introduce our panelists.

Lin Ezell was appointed Director of the National Museum of the Marine Corps in July 2005, after having served 21 years with the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. The National Museum of the Marine Corps, located near Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, opened in November 2006 and showcases the history of the Corps, from its establishment in 1775 to today’s deployments around the globe.

She joined the National Air and Space Museum in 1984 as a curator and held several senior positions, including Executive Officer for Development; Program Manager for the planning, design, and construction of the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center; and Assistant Director for Collections Management. Lin also worked as a historian for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for 10 years, from 1974 to 1984.

She was a faculty member in the historic preservation program at the Loudoun County campus of Northern Virginia Community College for many years and is the author of several books, including Out of Harm’s Way: Moving America’s Lighthouse and Building America’s Hangar: The Design and Construction of the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. In 2009, she received the Dickey Chapelle Award from the Marine Corps League in recognition of her contributions to the Corps.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Lin Ezell.