New exhibit shows Vietnam veterans' drawings - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

New exhibit shows Vietnam veterans' drawings

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WAUSAU (WAOW) - A new exhibit in Marathon County is giving a glimpse into the thoughts of Vietnam soldiers.

Curators at the Marathon County Historical Society say soldiers turned to drawing on the bunks above them to express themselves. Now those canvasses are on display so others can better understand the war and the soldiers who fought in it.

Stories, fears, and longing thoughts of love were kept quiet for many Vietnam war soldiers.

"When I first got out I think I just wanted to forget about the whole thing," said Dave Stachovak of Wausau, a Vietnam veteran. "I would have talked about it if anyone would have asked me but nobody really wanted to hear anymore about Vietnam."

Soldiers were cooped up for weeks as ships made their way to and from the war torn country of Vietnam. Many on the transport ship General Nelson M. Walker looked no further than the canvass above them for an outlet.

"A lot of them used the bunks and their markers as a way to get out the feelings about that, perhaps their fears of what would happen to them when they were in Vietnam, would they live, would they die," said Kathy Volkmann, a curator at the museum.

Now those are on display at the Marathon County Historical Society in Wausau. Six of the canvasses on display were created by soldiers from Wisconsin.

"It gives the vets a little recognition that they didn't get," said Stachovak.

"Regardless of what anybody that was left over here, the relatives, friends, community members, whatever we might have thought about the war, the experiences of the soldiers were often not shared and not expressed and this really is a good way to look and see what was on their minds," said Volkmann.

From Charlie Brown characters to lovely ladies, the graffitied bunks were a way to leave a mark.

"We just wanted to recognize the Vietnam veterans and the service that they did for our country," said Volkmann.

The museum is asking all Vietnam veterans to sign a blank canvas marking their time in Vietnam as many did before them.

The exhibit is on display through February 2015. It is free and open to the public.

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