Officials from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam on Wednesday awarded Texas Tech University's James Reckner an honorary medal for the cause of Vietnam Archives - making him the first American to receive such an honor from the United States' former enemy.
Reckner, executive director of the Institute for Modern Conflict, Diplomacy and Reconciliation, has played an instrumental role in growing Texas Tech's Vietnam Center into one of the world's foremost Vietnam-related archival and diplomatic instruments.
Reckner said the award is a reflection of the continuing process of reconciliation between former enemies, and reflects the importance of the work of the Vietnam Center.
"Cooperation in archival matters as well as cooperation in developing joint education programs, such as the ones currently being discussed by the delegation now in Vietnam, are the sort of activities that help heal the wounds of a war that concluded 33 years ago," Reckner said.
The timing is especially significant coming little more than a week before the 40th anniversary of the Tet offensive - a sweeping military campaign launched Jan. 30, 1968, that surprised allied South Vietnamese and U.S. forces and proved a turning point in public support of the war.
Founded in 1989, the Vietnam Center and Archives houses one of the largest collections of Vietnam-era related documents outside the National Archives. It also plays a leading role in reconciliatory and diplomatic efforts between Vietnam and the U.S. In the past year alone, the center became the first U.S. institution to formally share war-related information with Vietnam's national archive, and center officials inked an agreement to help train future Vietnamese diplomats.
Source: Texas Tech University
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