Challenging the Pentagon
Why and How VPCC is Monitoring the Pentagon's
50th Anniversary Vietnam War Activities
The Vietnam Peace Commemoration Committee (VPCC) was formed in 2014 in response to an extravagant and ambitious 10 year campaign by the Pentagon to re-honor all Vietnam War era veterans and retrace the history of the war itself. Our concern was not with honoring veterans, but rather with how the Pentagon portrayed the war and its other public activities.
The Pentagon's campaign was awarded approximately $63 million by Congress with Obama’s approval to locate and honor 9.2 million Vietnam veterans in thousands of local events around the country. In addition to its staff, it has an Advisory Committee headed by former Pennsylvania governor and first Homeland Security Secretary, Tom Ridge.
VPCC began to monitor the activities of the Pentagon project, initially concerned about efforts to create high school and university curricula with the Pentagon's version of the Vietnam War. As a result of pressure and media coverage, we were able to get the Pentagon to discontinue its pedagogical project, as seen in this October 2014 New York Times article, Paying Respects, Pentagon Revives Vietnam, and War Over Truth. However, the Pentagon staff is still working with high school students whom they encourage to interview local veterans about their experiences in Vietnam and to submit their reports for its website.
Other concerns were raised about the war timeline on the Pentagon site, which originally called the Mylai Massacre the "Mylai Incident". Efforts to challenge the Pentagon’s war timeline resulted in a second New York Times article in November 2016, Activists Call for Realistic Portrayal of Vietnam War on Pentagon Website.
Posters, flyers, and more details can be seen at the Pentagon project official website - www.vietnamwar50th.com. The website also contains the list of their local affiliates, over 10,000, plus information on their medal and pin awards for veterans.
VPCC staff now attend all of the Pentagon's 50th Anniversary public Advisory Committee meetings, held almost quarterly at Fort Myers in Virginia, to keep informed and provide input into planned activities. Reports of those meetings are available as well.
VPCC MAY 2015 EVENT
As VPCC developed its network of past and present anti-war activists, it decided to organize a national gathering in Washington, DC, to recall the importance of the Vietnam era from the perspective of the anti-war movement, along with the lessons for today.
On May 1-2, 2015, at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, not far from the White House, over 650 participants joined in a variety of workshops and plenary sessions. Included in the program were Dan Ellsberg, Mark Rudd, Peter Yarrow, Staughton Lynd, Cora Weiss, Tom Hayden, Pat Schroeder, Ron Dellums, Phil Donahue, and dozens of others. Scores of former anti-war activists were in attendance.
All 40 sessions were recorded and can be viewed on YouTube here. Tapes of the workshops are also available at (website -where???).
MEDIA CRITIQUES OF PENTAGON PLANSVietnam in the Battlefield of Memory - The Nation
The U.S. is celebrating the wrong anniversary for the Vietnam War - Washington Post
50 Years Ago This Week We Started Bombing Vietnam - Mother Jones
The Pentagon’s Pathetic Vietnam Whitewash - The Daily Beast