CVI Newark participants experience a guided tour of the museum.
A welcome home banner made by the mother of a veteran, who now works as a tour guide at NJVVMM.
Participants at the U.S. War Dogs Memorial.
A tour guide interprets a display for CVI Newark participants.
Participants share their experiences at the NJ Gold Star Family Monument.
Participants in the Clemente Veterans’ Initiative Newark (CVI Newark) recently visited the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial and Museum (NJVVMM) in Holmdel as part of their spring 2023 humanities course exploring themes of war and reconciliation.
CVI Newark is a free, college-level humanities course for veterans and military-connected civilians in Newark, supported by NJCH and administered by the Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies at Rutgers University-Newark. CVI Newark students in the 2023 cohort are veterans of the Air Force, Army, Navy, and National Guard and served throughout the world, including the U.S., Middle East, Germany, South Korea, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“The Memorial is incredible, and visiting it was the highlight of our semester,” said CVI Newark faculty lead Lance Thurner. “Our guides—Rick, Bobby, Mike, and Chuck—brought to life the experience of the war and of coming home in a way that no other museum can. Their contribution to the remembrance of the war and the fallen, and to our course of next-generation veterans, is immeasurable. We cannot thank them enough.”
“NJCH has funded NJVVMM programs, including their Vietnam Scholars’ Series, so it was natural for us to bring CVI Newark and the Memorial together for this day,” said NJCH Director of Strategic Initiatives Valerie Popp, PhD. “It was an incredibly moving and impactful experience for all of the course participants who attended.”
After an informal breakfast outside the museum, four guides led participants on a tour of the museum and the surrounding grounds.
The museum tells the story of US intervention in Vietnam from the fall of the French at Dien Bien Phu, through the Vietnam War, and up to the present. Artifacts on display include photographs, combat gear and clothing from both American and Viet Cong forces, things carried by soldiers, and personal mementos and recollections.
After the museum tour, participants visited several memorial spaces, including the Memorial Garden, The Wall, the U.S. War Dogs Memorial, NJ Gold Star Family Monument, Purple Heart Memorial, and the Vietnamese American Memorial.
Touring the complex is an affecting educational experience for all visitors. For Vietnam veterans, the NJVVMM serves an even deeper purpose as a space for community and shared memory.
The Clemente Veterans’ Initiative Newark invites students to renew their sense of purpose through deep engagement with the humanities. Exploring questions of war, civic duty, family, and sacrifice, the course offers veterans a chance to place their personal experience into a broader perspective, one that helps them connect their military experience with their civilian lives. For more information about CVI Newark, visit their webpage here.