Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam
Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam offers insight into the thoughts and feelings of young Americans going to war during the 1960s, a turbulent time in our nation’s history. This unique, multidimensional exhibit features a complete eight-man berthing unit recovered from the troopship General Nelson M. Walker, which transported thousands of American soldiers and Marines to Vietnam during 1966 and 1967.
To fight boredom, seasickness and anxiety, the soldiers used marking pens to inscribe personal thoughts and hopes on the canvas bunks above them. The graffiti often mentioned loved ones, hometowns and personal aspirations. The soldiers’ expressions of homesickness, love, humor, anxiety, military pride and political opinions are as relevant today as they were 40 years ago. For its installation at the State Museum, Marking Time will feature canvases with graffiti by New York soldiers.
The canvases were discovered by chance on the troopship in 1997 while the ship was moored in Virginia’s James River. In 2005 the ship was scrapped in Brownsville, Texas, and graffiti-inscribed canvases and other historic voyage artifacts were recovered by the Vietnam Graffiti Project of Keswick, Virginia, which has organized the traveling exhibit. In addition to the canvases and artifacts, the exhibition will feature a video component about the Walker and the Vietnam Graffiti project.