DRACUT — Several months ago, David Soucy traded a guitar for a chest full of what might have been junk.
Inside, he found old newspaper clippings from the 10th anniversary of the Vietnam War. As he read through the articles one, Soucy, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq, decided he had to preserve them and bring positive attention to the thousands of veterans who returned from Vietnam to something less than a hero’s welcome.
Soucy, of Dracut, began traveling the Greater Lowell region, meeting veterans, taking their pictures, and thanking them. And he has now compiled hundreds of those pictures, the newspaper clippings, and borrowed items from Vietnam veterans into an exhibit called the “Heart of a Traveling Soldier” that was on display over the weekend at the Parker Memorial Library.
“I’m trying to say thank you and get (Vietnam veterans) involved because in our country we haven’t done that for them,” Soucy said.
Many veterans who visited the exhibit in Dracut had emotional reactions, including one man who cried and said that, in the 40 years since the Vietnam War ended he had never felt as welcomed home as he did there, Soucy said.
The exhibit includes a handmade wooden monument that is embedded with screens showing pictures of veterans, old newspaper articles about the war, and the words “Welcome Home Vietnam Veteran.”
There is a board where veterans can pin patches from their units, a booth where visitors can learn proper flag etiquette, and a station with information and resources about veteran suicide rates.
Soucy has big goals for the exhibit. He plans to build one for each American conflict and he is hoping to travel the country with them. He especially wants to set the displays up in schools to help educate children born generations after the wars about the men and women who fought in them and why they did it.
“We’re living life so fast, at 100 miles per hour, we’re not taking the time to stop and say ‘What is our country really about?'” Soucy said.
The exhibit will next go on display March 5 at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 662 on Plain Street in Lowell. In the meantime, Soucy will be working on his Korean War exhibit. Anyone who wishes to donate to the cause is asked to contact state Rep. Colleen Garry at Colleen.Garry@mahouse.gov.
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