This week, reporters from the Wall Street Journal are interviewing students who have worked on Mr. Thomas Clark’s, Social Studies, Vietnam project. They are observing the class receiving the project and learning about the project’s impact.
“I’m writing a series of stories about the aftermath of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I’m interested in what happens afterwards in the lives of those who served and those left behind when their family members went off to war,” Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Philips said.
Philips and Mr. Clark met while they were both serving in Afghanistan in 2006. During their time spent together, Philips learned about the Vietnam Project Mr. Clark involves his history students in every year and took note that the project could make a good story later on.
“I’ve never heard of a project like this. It’s interesting to learn about the effects on the students who do the interviewing and researching and to learn about the effects on the families. They, perhaps, learn for the first time that someone cares about their son, father or grandfather,” Philips said.
The Wall Street Journal has supplied a camera crew to take footage of students, interviews and Mr. Clark handing out the files to his new students.
“I think [the project] is amazing. At first I was nervous; I didn’t know how the families would react, but it seems like they get closure [from the project],” photographer Paul Octavious said.
Angela Wagner was one of the first family members to be interviewed, in 1989, for the project and understands first-hand the healing powers of the project. Her father, Sergeant Terrence Smith, was killed in Vietnam when she was 4 years old. She was brought in to be interviewed by Philips.
“The project has had a positive effect on me. It helped knowing that someone, the students and Mr. Clark, finally cared about my father’s death. I grew up being told he was a “baby killer” and it was great to know people viewed him as a hero not a killer in a war,” Wagner said.
The students spent Wednesday evening interviewing the family of LC alum David Nowaczyk, about the death of their son last April. Philips accompanied students on an interview in order to fully understand the effects of the project. He brought his camera crew to record the interview and was able to experience the project’s concept first hand.
Philips’ story will be in the Wall Street Journal in about four or five weeks. For more information about the article or the Vietnam Project, visit Mr. Clark in C103.