Major initiative features documentary film and weekend event to honor Maryland’s Vietnam-era veterans on war’s 50th anniversary
Baltimore, Md. – Nov. 6, 2014 – Maryland Public Television (MPT) announced today that it will honor the men and women who served in the military in the Vietnam War era through a $2.5 million project that will include television, educational and special event components in the year 2016.
A three-hour, multi-part documentary, Maryland Vietnam War Stories, will air on MPT in advance of a major regional event called LZ Pimlico that occurs on June 11 and 12, 2016 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.
The MPT activities roughly coincide with the U.S. 50th anniversary commemoration of the Vietnam War.
Maryland Vietnam War Stories will air over three nights in spring 2016, capturing the experiences of men and women of the Vietnam era in their own words. Some 60 veterans have already been taped for the production and interviews will continue for the remainder of 2014 and 2015.
As described by Ken Day, executive producer, the film will make for a powerful television experience, underscoring this tumultuous time in American history. Participants recall their impressions, share their experiences and reflect on this time of their lives, now long past. Themes of camaraderie, the guilt of surviving when buddies did not and the reaction of an often-hostile public on their arriving home all run throughout the interviews, Day noted.
Maryland Public Television representatives have been meeting with groups of veterans throughout the state since early 2013 to identify men and women whose stories add to the breadth and chronology of the documentary film. Unedited footage already recorded can be found on the MPT YouTube channel site.
LZ Pimlico event
Expected to attract tens of thousands of veterans and their families, the LZ Pimlico event in June 2016 is intended as a long-overdue community salute to Maryland’s Vietnam-era veterans. The term “LZ Pimlico” recalls the phrase “landing zone,” representing the actual point where aircraft, especially helicopters, safely land in combat.
The weekend will likely include many of the following activities:
- A powerful memorial of 1,015 empty white chairs will occupy the Pimlico infield in tribute to the 992 Maryland Vietnam veterans killed in action and the 23 who remain missing.
- A visit from The Moving Wall™, since 1984 the traveling half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
- More than 1,000 members of veteran organizations, associations and clubs will participate in a motorcycle ride called The Run for LZ Pimlico Honor Ride. Each rider will represent a soldier who died in combat or is still missing. The riders will travel from various Maryland locations and enter Pimlico in formation as a salute to the fallen and missing veterans.
- A 140′ x 108′ map of Southeast Asia will be a focal point at LZ Pimlico, and veterans and their families will be invited to sign and date it to reflect locations where they served or where comrades made the ultimate sacrifice.
- A mobile Army surgical hospital (MASH) unit will be constructed on site to depict the medical units that saved so many lives.
- A motor pool of military vehicles used in Vietnam will be available for visitors’ inspection.
- A Huey helicopter flyover will be part of the program, and a Huey on the ground will invite visits by attendees.
- Information booths and displays by service organizations will offer assistance to veterans and their families. Expected to participate are the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, among other groups.
- Counselors and medical personnel from the VA Maryland Health Care System will be on hand.
- Benefit service officers from the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs will be on hand to answer questions and provide assistance involving benefit claims with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Bob Hope USO Show-style entertainment will be featured on the main stage at the two-day event as well as a band playing the music of the era.
- On the education front, MPT representatives will work with school systems across Maryland to engage students in activities to capture and share stories of Vietnam-era veterans.
- Seminars are planned to provide up-to-date information on the effects of Agent Orange, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), shell shock, traumatic brain injuries and related topics.
- Vietnamese food will be made available as well as domestic beer brands most enjoyed by soldiers in combat.
In spring 2015, Maryland Public Television will launch a statewide educational tour in the form of a traveling exhibit dedicated to Vietnam veterans. This exhibit, made possible by the SunTrust Foundation, will visit schools, libraries and museums and include photos of individuals featured in the documentary, artifacts from the war, a video loop of personal stories and other remembrances of the era.
To direct the Vietnam initiative, MPT in 2012 began assembling a leadership task force of business and civic leaders; military representatives; educators; and persons who work on behalf of veterans.
Larry D. Unger, president and chief executive officer of Maryland Public Television, noted “Many leaders in this state recognized the importance of the MPT initiative in saluting men and women who served in a tumultuous era of U.S. history. They readily came on board with us to assist in planning the activities and seeking voluntary contributions and sponsorship funding for MPT’s initiative. As Maryland’s only statewide broadcaster, we feel we have an obligation to tell the story from the perspective of the men and women from this state and the area who served nobly during the Vietnam War. Our leadership task force members are helping to make this possible, and we’re deeply indebted to them.”
Warren A. Green, retired president and CEO of LifeBridge Health, chairs the MPT Vietnam task force and emphasizes that all money raised for the MPT initiative will be spent on the documentary film and special event exclusively.
MPT actively seeks personal and corporate donations to the Vietnam project and is offering sponsorship packages to nonprofit and for-profit organizations to underwrite the documentary and weekend event.
The following individuals and organizations have made contributions to the initiative through October 2014: AMVETS, Batza Family Foundation, Henry and Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Foundation, Dorothy L. and Henry A. Rosenberg Foundation, The Bozzuto Group, Mr. and Mrs. King Corbett, Sam DiPaola, Enterra Solutions, Mr. and Mrs. Warren Green, James Lamdin, Marion and Kim Leonard, National Endowment for the Arts, the MPT New Initiatives Fund, Paul Sandler, Tim Schweizer, SunTrust Bank and SunTrust Foundation.
Launched in 1969 and headquartered in Owings Mills, Md., Maryland Public Television is a nonprofit, state-licensed public television network and member of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). MPT’s six transmitters cover Maryland plus portions of contiguous states and the District of Columbia. Frequent winner of regional Emmy® awards, MPT creates local, regional and national television shows. Beyond broadcast, MPT’s commitment to professional educators, parents, caregivers and learners of all ages is delivered through year-round instructional events and the super-website Thinkport, which garners in excess of 19 million page views annually. MPT’s community engagement connects viewers with local resources on significant health, education and public interest topics through year-round outreach events, viewer forums, program screenings, and phone bank call-in opportunities.
Source: Maryland Public Television