November 2, 2017
Oklahoma History Center Announces Opening of “Welcome Home: Oklahomans and the War in Vietnam” Exhibit
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma History Center is proud to announce the opening of its newest exhibit, “Welcome Home: Oklahomans and the War in Vietnam.” The exhibit will open to the public on Monday, November 6, and will remain open for two years.
The exhibit looks at more than the historic events that occurred during the war. It will explore the impact of the war on Oklahoma families, as told through the stories of the young men and women who served their country in the armed services and the immigrant families who fled Vietnam and came to Oklahoma seeking freedom and opportunity.
The story begins with a look at the family histories of Oklahomans who served in Vietnam. This opening section will conclude with the stories of young people from those families who volunteered to serve their country in the armed services during the war.
The second section will explore the roots of Vietnamese families that eventually would relocate to Oklahoma. It also will follow American military personnel and Vietnamese families onto the stage of war during the 1960s and 1970s. This will include stories of those in uniform, both American and Vietnamese, as well as stories of civilians whose lives were changed forever.
The next section will tell the Vietnamese refugees’ harrowing stories of escape as they left all that they had known in their homeland to obtain safety, security and opportunity in the United States. While they left under varying circumstances, they shared the common goal of a new life.
The fourth and final section of the exhibit will bring both Oklahoma-born military personnel and immigrants back to Oklahoma, where their stories will continue as they deal with challenges and seize opportunities. By connecting the dots of history, the exhibit will provide a contemporary portrait of Oklahoma’s diversity set against the backdrop of historic events.
In preparation for “Welcome Home: Oklahomans and the War in Vietnam,” the Oklahoma History Center has transported a newly acquired Huey helicopter to Oklahoma City. This addition to the exhibit honors those who stepped up and served in the Vietnam War and is donated by native Oklahoman Bob Ford, who said, “Any Army pilot or crew member who had the privilege to fly the Huey in combat loves it; it never let us down.”
The aircraft came from Weatherford, Texas, on Sunday, September 24, arriving at the History Center mid-afternoon, escorted by the Oklahoma Patriot Guard Riders. The Huey was installed the following day and is suspended from the History Center atrium in the same manner as the iconic replica of the Winnie Mae airplane hanging in the Devon Great Hall.
As an addition to the exhibit opening, the History Center will host The Wall That Heals, a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., that displays the names of the more than 58,000 men and women killed in the war. The Wall That Heals and its accompanying mobile Education Center will be open to the public twenty-four hours a day beginning Thursday, November 9, through Sunday, November 12, at 2 p.m. This will be the first time that it has been exhibited in the State Capitol Complex.
The Oklahoma History Center is a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, National Archives and is an accredited member of the American Alliance of Museums. The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.