OLEAN – The Cattaraugus County Museum and the Cattaraugus County Department of Veterans Services will host a free film screening at the JCC’s Cutco Theater at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 29.
As part of the ongoing ‘Our Veterans, Their Stories’ project, this event will feature a new film series titled ‘Vietnam: What a Vet Wants You to Know’.
This series, consisting of four approximately six-minute films, features four Cattaraugus County veterans sharing their experiences in a format intended to fit into the high school social studies curriculum and be shown to local students.
The chapter titles are “Called to Serve”, “In Country”, “Coming Home”, and “Looking Back”.
The project was developed with the help 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 information on the topics to be covered and the length of the films, in addition to creating lesson plans that meet New York State standards. They also introduce each chapter as hosts in the production.
“This project is important because it provides educators with an opportunity to integrate local history into a larger understanding of our national and global history, and also provides students with a way to view these larger issues through the lens of multiple perspectives,” said Christopher, a professor of U.S. and world history and geography.
“Whenever we can learn to celebrate our veterans, who play such an important role in our lives, we should!” continued Christophe.
“The oral histories of local Vietnam veterans will be an invaluable tool to use in my US history class,” Wolfgang added. “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 are encouraged to attend.
“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 Histories”, whose goal 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 Cattaraugus County veterans have been interviewed, whose service spans from World War II to Iraq. Most of these interviews are currently available in a kiosk at the Cattaraugus County Museum as well as on the county’s website, where they can be found at www.cattco.org/veterans-stories
The objective of the films is to give students the opportunity to hear a local perspective of the Vietnam conflict from veterans in their own communities, allowing them to better understand the lasting impact of war in their own neighborhoods.
“When we look at a veteran, we don’t see that they are just an ordinary person who, in the case of Vietnam veterans, was drafted as a child, sent around the world to can -be the first time and participated in the horrors of war.” explained John Tomerlin, videographer of the project. “They return home and live the rest of their lives with the pain of these memories that never leave them.
“Everyone needs to know what war really is and how it affects a person so they really understand why they say to a vet, ‘thank you for your service.'”
For more information about this event or the “Our Veterans, Their Stories” project, contact the museum at (716) 353-8200 or Director of Veterans Services Steve McCord at (716) 701-3298.
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