Vietnam remembered: Photos map University participation at LZ Lambeau
LZ Lambeau was described as one of the largest reunions ever of Vietnam War veterans, a long-overdue welcome home. The gathering at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field drew an estimated 75,000 visitors to the area May 21-23. As the photo gallery (below) illustrates, individuals with UW-Green Bay ties contributed to the project.
An emotional centerpiece of the reunion was a parking-lot-size map — a vinyl sheet, 105 feet wide and 140 feet long — locating Vietnam provinces, cities and villages, key rivers and other sites. Attendees were welcome to walk on and/or write on the map as a mechanism to help them share experiences. Veterans wrote their names and units or tributes to their friends and comrades.
“We have these guys who, for 40 years, haven’t talked about it, haven’t shared their stories,” event coordinator Jon Miskowski told the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “Just simply to be here, to put their name on the map, to own that and say ‘I’m a Vietnam vet, and I’m proud of that,’ that’s a huge, huge step forward.”
The map was created by UW-Green Bay Professor of Public and Environmental Affairs Bill Niedzwiedz with the help of personnel in the Office of Marketing and University Communication and local vendor Quick Signs. Niedzwiedz estimates he volunteered at least 250 hours this spring on the project, including a few on squeegee duty on the event’s opening day after a passing rain shower.
“The whole project was a very moving experience,” Niedzwiedz said. “I’m glad it made a difference for many who served.”
The map was the brainchild of Mik Derks, a producer with event co-host Wisconsin Public Television. It took 18 people a full hour to fold the map — all 1,300 pounds — onto a shipping pallet. It now resides at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum on State Street in Madison.
LZ Lambeau (“LZ” is military shorthand for Landing Zone) also included information booths for veterans. One was operated by UW-Green Bay’s Office of Outreach and Extension, with information on veterans benefits and Adult Degree offerings.
Faculty, students and alumni of the UW-Green Bay Theatre program performed a staged reading of The Tragedy of Achilles In Vietnam as a featured event at LZ Lambeau. The play addresses the challenges Vietnam veterans faced in returning home after service. Director Laura Riddle says the performance played to a capacity audience of approximately 120, including numerous veterans.
“It was an incredibly moving experience,” Riddle said. “Throughout the play there were laughs and shouts of recognition, as well as tears.”
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