Anyone Wondering about the Lengths That the Sen. John Heinz History Center Will Go to Create an Authentic Atmosphere for Its New Vietnam War Exhibit Will Find Their Answer about Halfway through the Collection [Derived Headline]

By Guggenheimer, Paul | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 11, 2019 | Go to article overview

Anyone Wondering about the Lengths That the Sen. John Heinz History Center Will Go to Create an Authentic Atmosphere for Its New Vietnam War Exhibit Will Find Their Answer about Halfway through the Collection [Derived Headline]


Guggenheimer, Paul, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Anyone wondering about the lengths that the Sen. John Heinz History Center will go to create an authentic atmosphere for its new Vietnam War exhibit will find their answer about halfway through the collection.

Sitting in the middle of an expansive gallery is the exhibit's largest and most iconic artifact, a Vietnam used UH-1H "Huey" helicopter with a 48-foot rotor wingspan used by the U.S. Army from 1967-1970.

"It's the first helicopter war," said Andy Masich, President and CEO of the Heinz History Center. "These 'Hueys' could be used for attack or they could be used for evacuation. It changed warfare because U.S. troops could be dropped right into a jungle and be ready for combat. And when it came to evacuation, these things could drop right into a fire zone and lift out dead and wounded soldiers and marines. It just changed the face of war."

It could also be said that the Vietnam War changed the face of America. It impacted the psyche of America, perhaps as no other event has in the history of the country.

"It's a hard thing to talk about even today," said Masich.

This explains why the Heinz History Center is devoting so much space and time to its latest exhibit "The Vietnam War: 1945-1975." It opens Saturday and will remain on display through Sept. 22.

Nate Nam Video

Developed in partnership with the New York Historical Society, the exhibit takes a long view of the war by beginning with an examination of the Domino Theory promoted by U.S. presidents going back to Harry Truman after World War II. As the Cold War pitting capitalism versus communism began in earnest, so did the theory that communism would spread throughout Southeast Asia and countries in the rest of the world would fall like dominoes if the communists prevailed in Vietnam.

Masich says it's an exhibit about how the America we know today was shaped.

"The cynicism that seeped into the soul and psyche of America really started to grow during the Vietnam era," said Masich. "At the beginning of this exhibit you're going to see that most Americans supported the war effort and their political leaders. By the end of the exhibit, you're going to see that most Americans were opposed to the war and had lost faith and confidence in their political leaders."

Along with the helicopter, which was shipped in parts from the Minnesota Historical Society, there is a Jeep with an M-60 machine gun mounted on it and a recreation of a "hootch," a slang term describing a soldiers living quarters in Vietnam. …

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