ITHACA — The History Center in Tompkins County will moderate this panel discussion, which will include Vietnam War perspectives of Harvey Baker, Robert Jan Mrazek, Ducson Nguyen, and Keith Taylor. The discussion will focus on impacts of Vietnam War on personal lives of the panelists and the audience and how the war changed our nation politically, socially and culturally. This panel is timely given the recent Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s documentary series “The Vietnam War.”
The panel is happening from 2 – 3 p.m. on Nov. 11. at the Tompkins County History Center, located at 401 E. State St. in Suite 100.
This will be the first CUP Talk within the new partnership between The History Center and Cornell University Press. This collaboration will primarily take the shape of talks and events from authors published by Cornell University Press held at The History Center on E. State / E. MLK Street. There will also be opportunities to highlight new themes in documenting history. The series of events, “CUP Talks,” are open to the public and intended to generate interest in local history.
Harvey Baker grew up in Tompkins County and graduated from Lansing High School in 1965 and enlisted in the Marine Corps the summer after graduation. He primarily worked as a Scout Dog Handler during his two tours in Vietnam, with his dog named Rommel. Harvey is a retired police officer and a retired industrial salesman. He is also an author and has five Vietnam War novels in print at Amazon. Harvey is a father of two and a grandfather of three and currently lives in Groton.
Robert Jan Mrazek grew up in Huntington, Long Island, New York. He graduated from Cornell University in 1967 and then joined the US Navy. Following his discharge, Mrazek spent 1969-1971 as an aide to US Senator Vance Hartke (D-Indiana). In 1975, he was elected to the Legislature of Suffolk County and became its minority leader, serving through 1982. Serving five terms in the U.S. Congress, Mrazek wrote several pieces of landmark legislation. He co-wrote a law to protect the Manassas Civil War battlefield from being bulldozed into a corporate mall. Mrazek also authored the Amerasian Homecoming Act that brought nineteen thousand children of American military personnel who had served in Vietnam to the United States. After Mrazek retired from politics in 1993, he became an author. His recent novel is And the Sparrow Fell, published by Cornell University Press. He and his wife live in upstate NY and Maine.
Ducson Nguyen was born in New Jersey in 1980, the first of 3 children of Vietnamese immigrants who fled their homeland in 1975. Ducson earned bachelors and masters degrees in computer science from Rutgers University and Villanova University. He and his wife Amber moved to the Ithaca area eight years ago, where they were pleasantly surprised and thankful to find an incredibly active and engaged community. Ducson is a software engineer at GrammaTech, a cybersecurity research company headquartered in downtown Ithaca. He currently serves as Alderperson for Ward 2 in Ithaca (downtown) and serves on the boards of TCAT and the United Way.
Keith Taylor is a veteran of the Vietnam War and a professor of Vietnamese studies at Cornell University. He has published several books and many articles about Vietnamese history and literature, including about the Vietnam War. He has been teaching about the Vietnam War for forty years.