Sunday was Veterans Day in the United States (originally “Armistice Day” for those who don’t know their World War I history!) and for the first time I got to participate actively in the creation of an event to celebrate the holiday. At my previous job I was the chair of an exhibits committee, which created visual exhibits in the lobby of the building consisting of materials from our collections. For the last exhibit I was to ever be involved in, I chose to honor two specific individuals, David Brock a veteran of the Korean War, and Christopher Ammons a veteran of the Vietnam War and tell the story of their war, through their eyes on our exhibits panels.
I had previously worked with the Mr. Ammons, and another staff member worked with Mr. Brock, so we divided up the work and installed the exhibit.
The physical exhibit was finished on November 7 and we held an official opening event on November 9; inviting both Mr. Brock and Mr. Ammons to the event, as well as the secretary of state and the commissioner of Veterans’ Affairs.
This event turned out better than I’d hoped. Mr. Brock and Mr. Ammons were both blown away, not only to have been featured in an exhibit, but also for the reception they received from the crowd on hand.
A colleague told me he felt that Mr. Brock, who hadn’t spoken about his Korean War experience much, if at all, since his return from service, “left his war at the exhibit,” finally being able to unburden himself of the memories. I was later told that Mr. Ammons said the experience was the, “best day of my life,” as he was being driven back to his home.
For those of us who attended the opening with them it was important to remember that everyone who served in those wars served for their own reasons, and what they experienced only they could really know. I was ecstatic to have had a hand in being able to shed some light on the stories of these two individuals and honoring their service was long overdue.
Though it was the last thing I did before leaving that job, it was the best thing I ever did in that position and I was thankful for the opportunity.
A brief slideshow of the exhibit is featured below, along with links to the material selected for a digital archives page of the Vietnam War Veteran. Detailed pictures, along with photos of the event and a video of the event will be coming soon!
A news article featuring Mr. Brock appeared on the front page of his local newspaper! Link located here.
Link to more of Mr. Ammons’ Photographs located here.