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Brooklyn's Vietnam Veterans

By Sady Sullivan

Posted on September 30, 2009

In Our Own Words: Portraits of Brooklyn’s Vietnam Veteran’s (2007 – ongoing) is the first exhibit in BHS’s oral history gallery.  With the use of oral histories, portraits, and personal artifacts this audio installation explores the impact of the Vietnam War on the lives of Brooklyn’s diverse residents, from the first person perspective.  Meeting people who were touched by the Vietnam War, visitors are prompted to consider the on-going impact of the Vietnam War in the lives of Brooklynites, from their memories of the war to how it affects them today.

From portrait to portrait, from person to person, from personal narrative to personal narrative, a meta-narrative slowly emerges in which we empathize with the stories of the men and women who confront the chaos of an historical period, and share their memories and understanding of the history through which they lived.

Read reviews of the exhibit:

The New York Times December 2007

Journal of American History June 2009

Listen to audio clips from the exhibit:

Ed German in Dress Blues
Ed German in Dress Bluesphoto courtesy of Ed German

Ed German, a member of one the first black families to live on Willoughby Street, joined the Marines and was sent to Vietnam in August 1968. He was wounded in May of 1969. In this clip, he talks about coming home: [audio: /uploads/german-web2.mp3]

John Hamill
John Hamillphoto courtesy of John Hamill

John Hamill grew up in the “Irish Ghetto” of Park Slope. Although against the war, he enlisted as a medic in 1967. In this clip, he talks about his opposition to the war: [audio: /uploads/jhammill_web1.mp3]

Vietnam Veteran for Peace
Vietnam Veteran for Peacephoto by Bernard Edelman

In Our Own Words features more stories from these narrators and fellow veterans: Joan Furey, Anthony Wallace, Paul Knox, Daniel Friedman, Rudy Thomas, Neil Kenny, Ed Blanco, Herbert Sweat, Joseph Giannini, Katherine Bourdonnay, Robert Ptachik, Tony Velez, and Phat Tran.

Admission to the exhibit will be free for all veterans and family on Veteran’s Day, Wednesday, November 11, 2009.

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