KUED honors Utah Vietnam War veterans with a special event at the Utah State Capitol on Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 18 from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. The event features a program, an exhibit and reception open to the public.
For more than two years, KUED tirelessly interviewed 97 of Utah's Vietnam War veterans to preserve their experiences in a landmark three-part television documentary series, Utah Vietnam War Stories. The May 18 event marks the culmination of the series.
The program, which will take place in the Capitol Rotunda, includes remarks from Governor Gary Herbert; Terry Schow, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs; and KUED's Ken Verdoia.
At 2:30 p.m., attendees will be invited to an exhibit and reception in the Hall of Governors. A moment of silence at the Vietnam Memorial on the west lawn of the Capitol follows at 3:45 p.m. Colonial Flags will display 364 seven-foot flags, representing each Utah soldier killed in service during the war. Vietnam Veteran Larry Weist, who was involved in planning the memorial, will also make remarks.
The exhibit features archival photographs, poetry and lyrics written by vets, as well as poignant excerpts from the transcripts of interviews with veterans featured in the KUED series. The excerpts reflect the varied experiences of Utah veterans who served in every setting and capacity during the conflict.
Utah's veterans tell gripping stories of the psychological effects of combat, the challenges of flying forces in and out of hot landing zones, the drama of nurses working to save lives, the psychiatric medics who were torn about sending men back into the field, the day-to-day struggle to survive as a prisoner of war and, ultimately, the difficulty faced in assimilating back into civilian life. The men and women in the exhibit represent not only a range of service but also a range of viewpoints about the war.
"These are the stories of those who served their nation in a time of change, uncertainty and conflict — from the early days when a nation struggled to find Vietnam on a map to the final days when POWS returned home," says Verdoia.
The exhibit will be on display in the Hall of Governors at the Capitol until June 1. It will then travel to the West Jordan Veridian Library and Whitmore Library before going to the Salt Lake City Main Library, where it will be on display the month of November in conjunction with Veterans Day.
Funding for the exhibit is provided by Katherine W. and Ezekiel R. Dumke, Jr. Foundation and the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation
This episode of Utah Vietnam War Stories can also be viewed on Tuesday, June 4, at 7 p.m. on KUED HD Channel 7.1.