CAMBRIDGE — An exhibit at the Cambridge Historical Society and Museum, “Honoring Our Vietnam Veterans,” calls attention to the experiences of area residents who did military service during the Vietnam War.
Deena Lowe, the society’s curator, and volunteer Betsy Shiland created the exhibit and organized a panel discussion in June in response to a suggestion by one of the museum’s directors, Lowe said.
“We wanted to show appreciation and to honor (the veterans,)” Lowe said.
Shiland, who also volunteers with the local American Legion post, was liaison with the Legion.
The Legion, Capt. Maxson Post 634, let the pair search their member database for Vietnam era veterans.
Lowe and Shiland also consulted a list compiled by local historian Dave Thornton for the area’s veterans memorial. Current and former residents of the towns of Cambridge, Jackson and White Creek were eligible.
Lowe and Shiland sent out more than 80 hand-addressed letters, each with a personal note to let the recipient know that the project was genuine.
“The response rate was not great,” Shiland said.
Although participation was open to all Vietnam War-era veterans, including those stationed in other countries such as Germany, Thailand and Cambodia, “people said, `I didn’t serve in Vietnam so I don’t qualify,’” Lowe recalled.
Shiland recruited some participants through conversations at the Legion’s bar.
Local veterans contributed photographs, books and magazine articles, uniforms, and other memorabilia.
Army veteran Lance Wang, whose service was post-Vietnam, loaned a timeline he created of the war’s history, starting with the first shipment of American aid to the French colonial administration in 1950 and ending with the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington in 1982.
Dianne Wilkie, who was on the Army medical staff, sent her medals and some photographs.
Gail Sourdiffe loaned her wedding album. She and her then-boyfriend, Larry, didn’t decide to marry until he enlisted, “when they realized they might not get another chance,” Lowe said. Their wedding was held just before he was shipped out to Germany.
The historical society’s archivist, Mary Anne McAvoy, brought her Coast Guard uniform.
Dan Severson and E. J. Lybert were featured speakers at the panel discussion on June 21.
Severson served more than 20…