Ia Drang. Khe Sanh. The Tet Offensive.
No, spell check isn’t broken but if you’re not familiar with these words then perhaps it’s time to crack open a history book and familiarize yourself with some of the major battles and offensives fought during the Vietnam War.
Even after more than 50 years, it’s still not clear how historians will close the book on it much less interpret its final outcome.
Some say it was a proxy war fought as the result of the Cold War following World War II involving three major superpowers - America, China and the Soviet Union.
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Jim Messinger, the curator of the National Vietnam War Museum near Mineral Wells, says he doesn’t think much about that, but he is an advocate of preserving its history for others to draw their own conclusion.
In that same vein, Messinger is currently involved in fund-raising efforts to build a structure which will contain both history and artifacts of one of America’s most talked about wars.
“This is exciting because all we are asking for is a million dollars,” Messinger said. “It only takes 100 people to donate $10,000 and we can open a piece of it and get moving.”
He said there have been 10 donors that have stepped forward, and by a fortunate turn of events, they were able to put another $100,000 into the kitty, helping them get almost a fourth of the way to their goal.
“And we just announced this in January, so if we can keep up this pace, that would be fantastic,” he said.
The Museum Board of Directors has hired a general contractor who is prepared to build the museum in four phases.
Phase one is a two story building with 10,000 square feet on the ground floor; 8,000 on the second floor and a covered porch. The facility will house three galleries: Introduction; The Home Front; and the History of Camp/Fort Wolters.
Phase two is an additional structure connected to the back of phase one and will be another 18,000 square feet, similar to phase one. It will house two or three galleries that will be determined later, as well as a theater.
Phase three is an additional structure connected to the back of phase two and will be another 18,000 square feet similar to phases one and two. This phase will house an additional galleries to be determined later.
Phase four will add two wings to the first three phases that will total approximately 26,000 square feet and will house the remaining galleries. All total the cost will be $5 million.
Messinger hopes to be able to meet the targeted groundbreaking for phase one in 2016 with construction completed in 2017.
“If phase one is all we need, then we can stop there,” Messinger said. “Phases two, three and four will be added only if necessary, after the opening of phase one.”
Messinger hopes that the annual fundraiser, scheduled for Sat., April 9, will deliver some generous gifts. The event will take place on the roof top of the Reata Restaurant in downtown Fort Worth beginning at 6 p.m. with a silent auction. A dinner will follow at 7 p.m.
For more information on the museum, or to purchase tickets for the event, contact Messinger at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 940-452-1470.