Filmmaker Ken Burn’s recent documentary series on PBS The Vietnam War: An Intimate History brought the viewer back in time over 50 years to examine one of the most controversial periods in the United States during the 20th Century. The Vietnam War played out on the world stage, but the program made clear local connections to people from communities across America and the hamlets of the former North and South Vietnam. Saint Joseph’s College had its own links to the conflict, too. In a new three-part exhibition, the Archives and Special explores some them through the camera lens of a young graduate, newspaper articles from the campus and the efforts of two alums and students to assist Vietnamese orphans.
Vietnam in Retrospect: Photographs 1969-1970 By Richard Zanoni ‘67
United States Army sergeant Richard Zanoni ’67 used his new hobby of photography to record daily life in Can Tho on the Mekong River Delta of South Vietnam during his tour of duty. Some of his 35 mm film images captured a different side of the war, than what many Americans saw back home on television, with children at play, a barber cutting hair, a woman selling her goods in the marketplace and Buddhist monks. However, others remind you that the war was ever present. One shows a smiling Vietnamese boy carrying his younger brother, who had lost his leg and another, a little girl eating rice from a discarded beer can. What happened to the people in his photographs is something that Sergeant Zanoni has often thought about since the war.
Fifty Years On: The Vietnam War on Campus
Saint Joseph’s was not unlike many other college campuses in the country during the Vietnam War. There was early support from the student body favoring continued participation in the war. Faculty members held “scholarly discussions” on the merits of the conflict. There were peace vigils and protests. Guest speakers also appeared before student audiences.
This part of the exhibition draws heavily on articles from The Hawk student newspaper that can be found in The Hawk Digital Archive 1930-2015 . It is a sampling of materials and not intended to be a comprehensive history of the events that took place on campus during the Vietnam War. Perhaps, the Archives will hear from some of the “Golden Hawks” about their personal experiences.
Humanity in a Time of War: “Project Vietnam” Lends a Helping Hand to the
Stella Maris Orphanage
Lieutenant James L. Tobin ‘64 and Captain Edward Essl ’55 of the United States Air Force met a group of Vietnamese nuns struggling to run the Stella Maris (Star of the Sea) Orphanage near Da Nang, South Vietnam in 1966. Lt. Tobin wrote to Lieutenant Colonel Daniel J. Boyle of the Saint Joseph’s College Reserve Officer Training Corps (R.O.T.C.) program requesting assistance from the College to aid the children. By the spring of 1967 “Project Vietnam” had been organized by the students to help solicit funds in order to build a hospital wing for the orphanage. Through car washes, collection canisters and social mixers $1,540.00 was raised and presented to Sister Angela of the orphanage.
The exhibition will be on display until the end of the Spring Semester in the Gerard Manley Hopkins Special Collections area on the 3rd floor of the John and Maryanne Hennings Post Learning Commons. A reception will be held there on Thursday, March 22nd at 3 P.M. Richard Zanoni will be there to speak about his photographs. Several other Vietnam War veterans who are part of the SJU community will also offer remarks on the topic of the war.
Thank you to the Saint Joseph’s University Office of Veterans Services for their assistance with Vietnam in Retrospect.
– Christopher Dixon, Archival Research Librarian