When former president Lyndon B. Johnson opened the LBJ Presidential Library in May 1971, he proclaimed, “It’s all here, the story of our time—with the bark off.” Accordingly, he wanted his library to reflect not only the triumphs of his administration, but the failures, too—and he wanted us to learn from them to build a better future for our country.
In keeping with President Johnson’s vision, the LBJ Library took a substantive, unvarnished look at the Vietnam War, with the goal to shed new light on the war and the lessons it provides. The passage of years offers greater perspective on the complexities of a war that altered not only our history but our perception of ourselves as a nation.
The result was the Vietnam War Summit, an intensive three-day conference in April 2016 that brought together policy makers, scholars, reporters, photographers, musicians, and importantly, those who were on the front lines of the war and the antiwar movement. In conjunction with the conference, the library displayed a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Twice each day during the summit, ceremonies recognized Vietnam War veterans.
A War Remembered features photographs and documentation from the Vietnam War Summit, but also includes a number of historic photographs from both the LBJ Library and the Briscoe Center for American History, offering a diverse perspective on the conflict that defined a generation.
Mark K. Updegrove was director of the LBJ Presidential Library from 2009 to 2017 and served as the host of the Vietnam War Summit. He is the author of three books on the presidency, including Indomitable Will: LBJ in the Presidency.