The Cattaraugus County Museum and the Cattaraugus County Department of Veterans Services will host a free film screening event at JCC’s Cutco Theater at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.
Part of the ongoing “Our Veterans, Their Stories” project, this event will showcase a new film series entitled “Vietnam: What a Vet Wants You to Know.”
This series, consisting of four approximately six-minute films, features four veterans from Cattaraugus County who share their experiences in a format intended to fit with high school social studies curriculum and be shown to local students.
The titles of the chapters are “Called to Serve,” “In Country,” “Coming Home” and “Looking Back.”
The project was developed with the assistance of two local educators, Katie Wolfgang from the Olean City School District and Dollene Christopher from the Allegany-Limestone Central School District. Wolfgang and Christopher offered input regarding the topics to be covered and the length of the films in addition to creating lesson plans that follow New York state standards. They also introduce each chapter as hosts in the production.
“This project is important because it offers an opportunity for educators to incorporate local history into a broader understanding of our national and world history, and also offers students a way to view these larger issues through the lens of multiple perspectives,” said Christopher, a teacher of U.S. and world history and geography.
“Anytime we can learn to celebrate our veterans, who play such an important role in our lives, we should!”
“The oral histories of local Vietnam veterans will be an invaluable tool for use in my U.S history class,” added Wolfgang. “I enjoyed learning and growing as an educator as well as collaborating with other local professionals on this project.”
Educators, veterans, or anyone interested in local history is encouraged to attend.
The goal of the films is to give students the opportunity to hear a local perspective of the Vietnam conflict from veterans from their own communities, allowing them insight into the lasting impact of war in their own neighborhoods.
“When we look at a veteran, we don’t see that they are just a regular person who in the case of the Vietnam vets were drafted as kids, sent across the world for perhaps the first time, and participated in the horrors of war,” explained John Tomerlin, videographer for the project. “They come home and live the rest of their lives with the pain of those memories never leaving them.
“Everyone needs to know what war is really about and how it impacts a person so they have a real understanding as to why they say to a vet, ‘thank you for your service.’”
“Vietnam: What a Vet Wants You to Know” was produced by the Cattaraugus County Department of Veterans Services and the Cattaraugus County Museum as an education-specific offshoot of the “Our Veterans, Their Stories” project, the goal of which is to record the oral histories of local veterans, and thereby preserve the human face of American history for generations to come.
Since 2021, nearly three dozen veterans from Cattaraugus County have been interviewed, whose service spans from WWII through Iraq. Most of these interviews are currently available at a kiosk at the Cattaraugus County Museum as well as on the county website, where they can be found at www.cattco.org/veterans-stories. They can also be viewed at the Cattaraugus County Museum’s new YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEju_R6yEyPrfk8wuNyGT-w.