MMU reflects on Vietnam War with Fall Faculty Series

Stories We Tell

Mount Mercy University invites the community to be a part of Stories We Tell: Legacies of the Vietnam War, a three-month series focused on the history and legacy of the Vietnam War.

“This year is both the 50th anniversary of the first big U.S. combat push in Vietnam, when Marines landed at Da Nang in 1965 to protect the air base there, and the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 when Saigon fell,” said Joe Sheller, Mount Mercy associate professor of communication. The Stories We Tell series is the Fall Faculty Series for 2015—each year, the Mount Mercy faculty chooses a topic to be the subject of an in-depth, public conversation,” Sheller said.

A highlight of the series is the five day stay of The Moving Wall, a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall located in Washington, D.C. The Wall has toured the country for more than 30 years and, like the original, bears the names of each life lost in the Vietnam War. It stands as a stirring reminder of the cost of conflict. Sponsored Cedar Memorial, The Wall will be on campus Sept. 17-21.

“I saw the wall for the first time during a visit to Washington, D.C., this spring, and the actual wall is a pretty powerful monument,” said Sheller, event organizer. “The idea that it, in even a small scale, is coming to MMU is pretty thrilling. It will provide a focal point for veterans who will share their stories during the wall's visit, and more than us—us the faculty—hearing from those who had direct experience during the war should be a powerful experience, one that I hope many students share.”

From discussions on Hollywood’s portrayal of the Vietnam War, to how a quiet Iowa anti-Vietnam War protest changed American schools forever, the on-campus series offers a historical backdrop and topics that will interest a variety of people. All events in the series are free and open to the public.

Stories We Tell kicks off on Wednesday, Sept. 2, with a discussion at 7 p.m. in Flaherty Community Room on Mount Mercy’s campus. The discussion, hosted by Sheller and Professor of English Joy Ochs, will revolve around how Hollywood has reflected and added to our culture’s Vietnam stories. The presentation will primarily focus on two classic Vietnam movies, “Full Metal Jacket” and “Apocalypse Now.”

The semester-long series will run through Nov.19.

“Our main goal is to have a big, interdisciplinary conversation on the important topic of what the Vietnam War means—to reflect in a deep way how the war change the United States and its culture,” Sheller said. This is the second annual Fall Faculty Series—last year’s series on the 100th anniversary of World War I was so successful that the faculty has decided to make the series an annual event.

For more information about Stories We Tell and a complete list of events, visit

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