More than 165,000 Wisconsin veterans served in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. Like many veterans, they have been reluctant to speak about their experiences. But because of the controversy over the Vietnam War, and the often hostiles response on their return, Vietnam veterans have carried an even greater burden. Few were thanked or welcomed home. They put away their uniforms and tied to put away their memories, but these are memories that cannot be put away.
Through the LZ Lambeau Project, Wisconsin gave voice to our Vietnam veterans to share their stories publicly and with their families. LZ Lambeau created place for the entire state to thanks these veterans for their service. Thanks to broadcasts on public and commercial television, Midwest PBS stations and streamed on the internet, Wisconsin Vietnam War Stories reached well over 100,000 viewers in its first months.
On the weekend of May 20-22, 2010, an estimated 70,000 people- Vietnam veterans, their families, friends and neighbors- traveled to Green Bay for three days of tributes, memorials, reunions, camaraderie and brotherhood. The project partners, seeking an opportunity to thank Vietnam and Vietnam-era veteran for their service and sacrifice, collaborated with Green Bay community and the Green Bay Packers to create LZ Lambeau. The three day event featured museum and photography exhibits, a music stage, Vietnam-era vehicles and aircraft, The Moving Wall, community events, a cross-state motorcycle honor rise, school outreach, an ecumenical service and a Tribute Ceremony inside historic Lambeau Field.
The Honor Ride
One Friday, May 21, 2010, 1,244 motorcyclists rode from LaCrosse to Green Bay in honor of the Wisconsin service people who were killed or still missing in action in Vietnam. As the ride made its way through Wisconsin, residents lined the route and communities came out in full force to greet, applaud and salute the motorcycles. In the town of Freedom, all the school students waved flags and the local fire department mounted a huge American flag above the street.
On Saturday May 22, 2010, more than 27,000 people from more than 27 states attended this special ceremony inside Lambeau Field for a ‘thank you’ to Wisconsin’s Vietnam Veterans. The event featured music, poetry, heartfelt thank yous and premiere segments from the Wisconsin Vietnam War Stories documentary. A powerful memorial of 1,244 empty chairs stood silent on the expansive playing field in tribute to the Wisconsin service people killed or still missing in action.
A Special Thanks for their Support of LZ Lambeau goes to: Wisconsin Veteran’s Museum; Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs; Wisconsin Historical Society; Wisconsin Public Television; Wisconsin Public Radio; Milwaukee Public Television; Vietnam Veterans of America-Wisconsin State Council; County Veterans Service Officers Association of Wisconsin; Disabled American Veterans, Department of Wisconsin; Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans; Wisconsin Dept. of Military Affairs; Rolling Thunder, Chapter 3 Wisconsin; Being There-Reaching Out, Inc For the Wisconsin Families of our Fallen Military; Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Wisconsin; American Legion Department of Wisconsin; the Military Order of the Purple Heart; AMVETS Department of Wisconsin; Wisconsin Gold Star Families; Thuy Smith International Outreach, Inc; Veterans of the Menominee Nation, and the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Nation; The American Legion Riders of Wisconsin; The Hmong Veterans of Wisconsin; the Patriot Guard Riders; Village of Ashwaubenon; USO of Wisconsin; Blue Star Mothers of Wisconsin; Brown County; Warriors’ Watch Riders of Wisconsin; and Veterans for Peace.