Client: Department of Defense
In the National Defense Authorization Act 2008, under Public Law 110-181, Congress authorized the Secretary of Defense to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. The public law lists five congressional objectives, but the primary mission of The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration is to thank and honor Vietnam veterans, including personnel who were held as prisoners of war or listed as missing in action, for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States, and to thank and honor the families of these veterans.
The Vietnam War Commemoration’s History and Legacy Branch supports this mission by providing the American public with a clearer understanding and appreciation of the service and sacrifice of our Vietnam veterans. As such, the History and Legacy Branch creates educational and historical products that are accessible not only to Vietnam veterans and their families, but also to the general public. On December 20, 2016, the Secretary of Defense hosted an event at the Pentagon to celebrate the official opening of The Vietnam War Exhibit, the largest and most ambitious project developed by the History and Legacy team. The exhibit, approximately the length of one corridor, is now a permanent fixture in the Pentagon. It is also the first large-scale exhibit in the Pentagon dedicated solely to the Vietnam War. It boasts a timeline that spans from 1945 to 1975, thematic panels that correspond to the timeline, archival photographs and film footage, and historical artifacts. At the center of the exhibit is a tribute to the United States’ five allies, as well as two authentic Vietnam-era Huey helicopter cabs that are integrated into wall-size mural backdrops of landscapes in Vietnam. As part of the official tour, the exhibit will be seen by more than 100,000 people who visit the Pentagon each year, as well as the estimated 23,000 employees who work in the Pentagon.
For three years, many talented people worked on this exhibit. ANSER employees were an integral part of a dedicated team responsible for writing and editing content, researching and selecting artifacts, photographs, and film footage for the entire exhibit, as well as providing input on the artistic design. The team faced numerous challenges along the way, including last-minute changes such as:
The collaborative effort, led by The Vietnam War Commemoration’s History and Legacy Branch Chief and team historians, resulted in the Society for History in the Federal Government selecting the exhibit as one of two projects to receive the 2017 John Wesley Powell Prize for outstanding achievement in the field of historic exhibits and interpretive products.