Vietnam: A 50 Year Retrospective


Join Us as We Explore the Deeper Meaning of the Vietnam War from the Vantage Point of a Half Century

April 29, 2023
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Jack Morton Auditorium

Fifty years after the signing of the “Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring the Peace in Vietnam,” the Vietnam War and its consequences continue to shape much of American life in politics, military strategy, culture, race relations and society as a whole. Vietnam: A 50 Year Retrospective will explore the deeper meaning of the Vietnam War from the vantage point of a half-century — not merely the war itself but also its impact — and will feature some of the most perceptive and recognized participants in the Vietnam story. They include noted historians, diplomats, military leaders, Vietnam veterans, Purple Heart recipients and foreign correspondents.

This day-long conference is hosted with support from GW's Columbian College of Arts & Sciences, the Wallace Foundation, and Carnegie Corporation of New York. C-SPAN will broadcast the event live.

Registration is encouraged but not required; however, seating is on a first come, first served basis. Overflow seating will be available in the lobby to view the conference via livestream.


Watch the Video



Conference Program


Opening Remarks
Paul Wahlbeck, Dean of Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, George Washington University
Mark S. Wrighton, President of the George Washington University
Peter Osnos, Author and Founder of PublicAffairs Books
Daniel Weiss, CEO, The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Session 1: Reflections on the War 50 Years Out
Panel: Paul Eaton, Chuck Hagel, Bob Kerrey


Session 2: Writing About the War: Lessons Learned
Panel: Robert Brigham, Phillip Caputo, Frances Fitzgerald, Fredrik Logevall




Session 3: Post-War Vietnam
Panel: Keith Richburg, Lien-Hang Nguyen, Raymond Burghardt


Lunch (provided)


Introductory Remarks
Christopher Alan Bracey, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, George Washington University


Session 4: Beyond the War
Panel: Elizabeth Becker, David Maraniss, Jim Sterba


Session 5: The Sounds and Images of an Era
Panel: John Balaban, Mark Godfrey, Lauren Onkey, Marcus Sullivan


Concluding Remarks


Daniel Weiss

Daniel Weiss

Daniel Weiss is the president and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and author of the book In That Time: Michael O’Donnell and the Tragic Era of Vietnam.
Peter Osnos

Peter Osnos

Peter Osnos, the author and founder of PublicAffairs Books, was a Vietnam correspondent at The Washington Post (1970–1973) and editor of Robert McNamara’s In Retrospect and other books on Vietnam. 
Thom Shanker

Thom Shanker

Thom Shanker is the director of the Project for Media and National Security at GW and a former editor and Pentagon correspondent at The New York Times.

Conference Participants

John Balaban: A Professor Emeritus of English at NC State, John Balaban is the award-winning author of thirteen books of poetry and prose, a translator of Vietnamese poetry, and a co-founder of the Vietnamese Nôm Preservation Foundation.

Elizabeth Becker: American journalist and author of You Don’t Belong Here: How Three Women Rewrote the Story of War.

Christopher Alan Bracey: Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, George Washington University

Robert Brigham: Shirley Ecker Boskey Professor of History and International Relations at Vassar College and author of numerous books on the Vietnam War, including Reckless: Henry Kissinger and the Tragedy of the Vietnam War and Iraq, Vietnam, and the Limits of American Power.

Raymond Burghardt: Career U.S. diplomat who served as a political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon (1970-73), Vietnam's U.S. ambassador (2001-04), and chair of the American Institute in Taiwan (2006-16).

Philip Caputo: Vietnam veteran and prominent author of 17 books, including A Rumor of War, one of the most important early books on Vietnam. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting along with numerous other awards.

Paul Eaton: Retired U.S. Army Major General with substantial command experience in Iraq. His father was an Air Force Colonel and bomber pilot lost in Vietnam.

Frances Fitzgerald: American journalist and historian who wrote The Fire in the Lake: the Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam, which won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, among other awards. (She is one of the subjects of Elizabeth Becker’s recent book, You Don’t Belong Here.)

Mark Godfrey: As a photojournalist for AP, LIFE and Time magazines, Mark Godfrey covered the war in Vietnam and Cambodia, and later worked for numerous international magazines on assignments that included coverage of the first Gulf war.

Chuck Hagel: Vietnam War veteran and recipient of two Purple Hearts, and former U.S. Senator and Secretary of Defense.

Bob Kerrey: Vietnam War veteran, former U.S. Senator and a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Fredrik Logevall: Laurence D. Belfer Professor of International Affairs at Harvard University; author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam and JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century, 1917-1956.

David Maraniss: Prominent journalist and author who wrote They Marched into Sunlight: War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967.

Lien-Hang Nguyen: Columbia University historian and expert on Vietnam. She has written numerous books on Vietnam, including Hanoi’s War: An International History of the War for Peace in Vietnam and Tet 1968.

Lauren Onkey: Director of the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design and Professor of Music at the George Washington University.

Keith Richburg: Longtime Washington Post foreign correspondent with substantial experience in Asia. He is currently director of the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at the University of Hong Kong.

Jim Sterba: Foreign correspondent and war correspondent for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Marcus Sullivan: Vietnam veteran and close friend of Michael O’Donnell, the subject of In That Time: Michael O’Donnell and the Tragic Era of Vietnam.

Paul Wahlbeck: Dean, George Washington University Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, and Professor of Political Science

Mark S. Wrighton, President, George Washington University