Museam - Vietnam War

   It has been the hope and dream of Vietnamese Americans in general and of SACEI in particular to lay the ground work for a Vietnam War Museum somewhere in the U.S. especially in the Washington D.C. area. It may not become a reality in our lifetime, although it is our fervent hope that plans for such a building be started as a tribute to the Men and Women who fought a difficult and unthankful War.

The Museum is a "NOBLE CAUSE," and as Teryl Zarnow from the Orange County Register reminds us in her January 15, 2010 article, "We spend so much time to fight wars. The cost would be even higher if we don't remember, study and learn from them."

Your opinions are appreciated.


A good idea has a thousand parents, but a bad idea is an orphan. The notion of creating a Vietnam War museum in Orange County is a good idea, and if it ever comes to pass, the family reunion will be enormous.

The concept of gathering war artifacts from Vietnam has been discussed for years. Now the concept of turning those artifacts into a museum is getting traction.

Garden Grove City Council member Bruce Broadwater, who most recently proposed the idea, believes the city could help lay the groundwork and provide credibility to the effort without supplying major funding. The council has created an exploratory committee...

Orange County's connection to Vietnam is stronger...

There is some urgency.

April 30 will mark the 35th anniversary of the fall of South Vietnam to the Communists. Passing years make it harder to document history first-hand from the veterans who fought the war, the families who lived through it, and the lives that were up-ended because of it.

U.S. military involvement, which lasted more than 14 years, claimed more than 58,000 American lives and over three million Vietnamese.

Vietnam meant America was never the same.

Orange County has competition. There are existing or proposed Vietnam War museums in Texas and Illinois.

Craig Mandeville of Orange served two Army tours in Vietnam and was an advisor to the Vietnamese in 1972. He came back for his grandmother's funeral in 1968 and was met by protestors at the airport.

"When I came home in 1972, I was proud of what I did, but nobody wanted to talk to you about it, appreciated what you did, or said 'Thank you'."

The passing of time has provided perspective, but not necessarily drained the passion.

Mandeville recalls: "Even then, some people said: 'Don't remind us of an unjust, unnecessary war.'"

Today, at least, our society is careful to draw distinctions: We honor those in military service no matter what we think of the war itself.

Mandeville, a member of Vietnam Veterans of America, calls a museum "a noble cause." He cautions it would have to include all viewpoints and gather a broad base of support.

"It is a misunderstood time; it was a misunderstood war...We need closure ... a place for past and future generations to come and understand the time and how things were."

We spend so much to fight wars. The cost would be even higher if we did not remember, study and learn from them.

Teryl Zarnow