Patriots Point honors Vietnam vets

  • Friday, April 18, 2014

Patriots Point will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. PROVIDED

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Starting this month, Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum is honoring the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War by kicking off its major expansion of the Vietnam Naval Support Base exhibit. The new Vietnam Experience Exhibit fits alongside Patriots Point’s announcement that it has been named a commemorative partner of the Department of Defense for the 50th anniversary. Vietnam veterans’ stories will be brought to life in compelling and interactive ways through the new exhibit and various events over the next two years.

Patriots Point plans commemorative events to take place throughout the year, and they begin with a symposium highlighting prisoners of war during Vietnam. As part of the “Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things” series, Patriots Point will welcome Alvin Townley, author of best-selling book “Defiant,” to tell the story of the renowned Alcatraz Eleven, the prisoners of war, and the wives left alone back home. The symposium will begin at 6:30 p.m. on April 17 aboard the USS Yorktown in the Smokey Stover Theater. Northside Christian School’s award-winning Hand Bell Choir will also perform in Hangar Bay at the beginning and conclusion of the program. Admission is free to the public, but parking fees still apply.

Patriots Point is also expanding and renovating its existing Vietnam Naval Support Base to not only include more artifacts and aircraft, but interactive components to the base that will make the exhibit come to life for visitors. The Vietnam Experience Exhibit will show guests what it was like to live in these support camps during the war. The expansions are projected to include foxholes, sounds of commanding officers, illusions of complete seclusion, and interactive artifacts. Construction on the Vietnam Experience Exhibit will begin as soon as this June and it is expected to be largely completed by November, in time for Veterans Day.

On April 18 at 11:30 a.m., Patriots Point will be holding a ground-breaking ceremony to begin the construction on this expansion. The event will include images of the exhibit’s conceptual art and an official announcement about the partnership with the Department of Defense as a commemorative partner. As a partner, Patriots Point will host numerous events and programs that will thank and honor Vietnam veterans.

“There are currently about 2 million Vietnam War veterans. The Vietnam Experience Exhibit expansion will provide them a place to visit and reconnect in a way that is not available elsewhere,” said Mac Burdette, executive director for Patriots Point. “These renovations will also help us educate our visitors on this war and to understand why it was such a game changer.”

Check www.patriotspoint.org for details regarding the upcoming Vietnam Anniversary programs and events.

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