With Veterans Day just around the corner, the Emporia Public Library will host a veterans panel at 1 p.m. Saturday. The panel will be comprised of three United States veterans who served during the Vietnam War.
“There has been a real push to hear the stories of Vietnam veterans recently, especially with the death of John McCain,” said Christopher Lovett, the panel moderator and professor of social sciences. “People are realizing that (Vietnam veterans) are beginning to die and they want to try and learn as much as they can.”
John McCain was a prisoner of war in Vietnam and senator from Arizona who died at age 81 in August from brain cancer, according to “The New York Times.”
The Emporia Public Library will be working in conjunction with Humanities Kansas, according to the event page. The panel is intended to be as free-flowing as possible, Lovett said.
“I want my fellow panelist to discuss their war experiences, how they got to Vietnam and how the war affected them,” Lovett said. “Many of these veterans from Vietnam did not age well and suffered many health problems because of their time there.”
Lovett is also a Vietnam veteran, in addition to serving as the panel’s moderator. “I was drafted just before Christmas of 1970, they gave me about a semester to prepare,” Lovett said.
The Vietnam War was different than other recent wars, according to Lovett. The number of protesters, how people avoided the draft, and the layout of colleges all factored into the differences.
“The quad was often full of students protesting,” Lovett said. “The police department, reporters, KBI and FBI were often here.” Temporary buildings also had to be constructed on colleges, because more people enrolled in an attempt to avoid the draft, Lovett said.
There was also an increase in college students because the returning veterans were able to afford to attend, due to the G.I. bill, according to Lovett.
Lovett hopes to see a good turn out on Saturday, especially due to the impact and the nature of the Vietnam War.
“A lot of kids from my high school graduating class died during the war,” Lovett said. “It wasn’t like the Gulf War or Afghanistan where you might lose 58 men a year. Sometimes we lost 58 men a week.”
The next Emporia Public Libaray event will be a Fortnite IRL event at 1 p.m. Nov. 17, according to the Library's event page.