The Vietnam Era Gallery in the National Guard Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., now tells more of the National Guard story from that complicated and uncertain time.
The renovated exhibit explains how the Guard became a haven for people who wanted to dodge the draft and escape service in Vietnam, an element of the Guard’s history that had been missing from the exhibit.
It also expands on the Guard’s law enforcement role in anti-war protests and race riots that marked those tumultuous years.
“The renovated exhibit addresses the Guard’s history in a more straightforward manner,” said Amelia Meyer, the National Guard Educational Foundation archivist. “The Guard was caught up in the same cultural and social turmoil as the rest of the country.”
In an article in the March issue of NATIONAL GUARD, Meyer notes that President Lyndon Johnson’s decision to not send the Guard in large numbers to Vietnam directly impacted the Guard’s inclusion in subsequent operations through the Total Force policy.
Anne Armstrong, the NGEF deputy director, says the renovation, which is now complete, better puts the war and the unrest of the 1960s in context and enhances the experience for a museum visitor.
“Following that thread is so much easier in the new gallery, mainly because of the new, streamlined text, but also because of the photo choices and the layout with better lighting and less physical clutter,” she said.
The renovated exhibit also includes a new artifact, the blouse worn in Vietnam by 1st Lt. Roger C. Schultz, an Iowa Guardsman who volunteered for duty in Vietnam and served there with an active-component unit in 1969.
He later became the Army Guard director as a lieutenant general. Schultz also donated funds for the renovation.