Historians, speakers to reflect on Vietnam War in upcoming lecture series

Emily Laytham

A series of distinguished professors from around the country will be speaking at UK this semester on the Vietnam War, half a century after the Tet Offensive.

Four lecturers, as selected by UK’s Department of History, will contribute. Two speakers are scheduled for February, and two are scheduled to lecture in April.

The series, “Remembering Vietnam,” comes at an apt time.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of 1968, the year of the Tet Offensive, a turning point in the war. But the timeliness goes even beyond commemoration of those 50 years.

Cody Foster is one of the series’ co-coordinators. He said he sees “Remembering Vietnam” as a way to take pause and consider how strides made during the War remain relevant in 2018.

It is this relevance, Foster says, that makes the series timely.

“What we see in society today is reflective of events that occurred during the Vietnam War,” Foster said. “The daily protests in DC, for example, are rooted in the protests of the Vietnam War where citizens actively demanded that their elected politicians act on the voice of the people.”

Foster also points to the continued struggle of Vietnam War veterans and decisions made by modern politicians regarding the Middle East, which he says echo those made by their “1960’s and 1970’s predecessors” regarding relations with Vietnam.

All lectures will be held in William T. Young Library’s Auditorium.

Those hoping to attend and reflect will have the first opportunity on Feb 7. Dr. Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, Professor of History at the University of California Irvine, will be lecturing at 4 p.m. The topic of the lecture will be “Patsy for President: Cold War Racial Liberalism and the Viet Nam War.”

The next lecture will take place on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. with speaker Dr. Frederik Logevall, Pulitzer Prize Winner and professor at Harvard University. Logevall will address “The Meaning of the Vietnam War.”

In April, the series will return with two more speakers.

On April 4 at 5 p.m., Dr. Lien-Hang T. Nguyen, a professor at Columbia University, will lecture. The topic will be “Tet 1968 Revisited.”

On April 19 at 4:30 p.m., Dr. Christian Appy, professor at the University of Massachusetts, will round out the series. He will discuss “The American Legacies of the Vietnam War.”

These topics cover a wide array of considerations. According to Foster, these considerations are important for UK students, even 50 years removed from the Vietnam War.

“My point is simple,” Foster said. “The Vietnam War is important because it defines our national character and shapes who we are as both individuals and as a society.”