2015 Press Releases

National Archives Explores Melvin Laird’s Impact on Post-Vietnam Military July 14
Press Release · Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Washington, DC

Former Senator John Warner will make opening remarks

On Tuesday, July 14, at noon, the National Archives will host a panel discussion on the contributions of former Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird (1969–73) during the Vietnam War. Erin Mahan, chief historian of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, will moderate a panel of experts including Richard A. Hunt, author of Melvin Laird and the Foundation of the Post-Vietnam Military, 1969–1973; Jeremi Suri, Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin; and George Herring, Alumni Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Kentucky. Former Senator John Warner will make opening remarks. This event is presented in partnership with the Historical Office of the Secretary of Defense.

This event is free and open to the public and will take place in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Museum and on YouTube. Attendees should use the Special Events entrance on Constitution at 7th Street NW. Reservations are recommended and can be made online. The National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, is Metro accessible on the Yellow and Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial station. For upcoming programs, see the Calendar of Events.

Congressman Melvin Laird (R-WI) agreed to serve as Richard Nixon’s secretary of defense in 1968, at the peak of the Vietnam War. He initiated the withdrawal of U.S. military personnel, fought to bring the troops home faster, pressed for more humane treatment of POWs, and helped end the draft.

The National Archives Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum holds Mr. Laird’s papers on topics including the 1964 Republican Party platform; the 1964, 1968, and 1972 presidential campaigns; Congressional Republicans in the 1960s; the Vietnam War; a wide range of Defense Department procurement, planning, and policy issues, both regional and global; domestic policies; Nixon White House efforts to avoid impeachment; and Mr. Laird’s post-government activities. Details and finding aid online [www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/library/guides/findingaid/Laird,_Melvin_-_Papers.asp]

Senator John Warner represented Virginia in the Senate for 30 years. He served on the Armed Services Committee, including three periods as chairman, and was viewed as one of the most influential senators on military and foreign policy issues. He volunteered for two periods of active military duty: the first as an enlisted sailor in the final years of World War II (1945–1946), and the second as a lieutenant in the U.S. Marines during the Korean War (1950–1952).

Richard A. Hunt taught at the U.S. Army Center of Military History and is the author of Pacification: The American Struggle for Vietnam’s Hearts and Minds and Melvin Laird and the Foundation of the Post-Vietnam Military – the seventh volume in the Secretaries of Defense Historical Series – examines former Congressman Melvin Laird’s efforts to reconstitute the Department of Defense during the last years of the Vietnam War.

Jeremi Suri holds the Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs, and he is a professor in both the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and the Department of History at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of five books, including Henry Kissinger and the American Century and Liberty's Surest Guardian: American Nation-Building from the Founders to Obama.

George Herring is Alumni Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Kentucky. A specialist in the history of U.S. foreign relations, his writing has focused on the Vietnam War and includes America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 and From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations since 1776.

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