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Born in 1965, Steve Maxner's earliest memories of world events were of the Vietnam War. Today, as director of the Vietnam Center and Archive at Texas Tech University, Maxner is devoted to preserving for future generations the memories of those who fought in that war. The Center and Archive, the brainchild of Vietnam veteran and the Center's founder, James Reckner, has become the largest archive and research center focused solely on the Vietnam War. Maxner describes how the Center is made possible by the support of Vietnam veterans and how their material donations and oral histories serve to inform and educate.
The Vietnam War was ramping up the year you were born. Do you have any memories of the war?
When did you get interested in Vietnam in a big way?
Did you then start studying the war's history?
You seemed torn between studying the military and being a part of it.
How did you land in Lubbock?
What was the Vietnam Center like then?
How did you come to join the Center?
And your first job was a big one.
You are also editor of the TTU Press Modern Southeast Asia Series?
How do you balance the academic studies from the popular memoir genre?
How did the Vietnam Center and Archive's become such an important institution?
How has this academic research center brought veterans into it?
Won't your archival collection role only grow and how will you handle that?
How do reach out to vets?
Do you ever turn away a donation?
What about book collections?
What is reason for the drop in donations in the past few years?
Aren't there a limited number of places accepting these types of materials?
How extensive now is your collection?
What do Vietnam vets get out the Center?
How accessible are the Center's resources to the average veteran and others?
Beyond veterans, how can the Center assist the broad spectrum of people impacted by the war?
Can this also serve as a hedge against future historians revising that part of the history?
Beyond the war, how can the Archive aid general academics and historians?
What unanswered question regarding Vietnam would you like to see answered?
Isn't understanding the dynamics of domestic politics on military decisions about Vietnam very relevant today?
How many oral histories does the Archive hold?
Do you search out interviews, or take volunteers?
How do you weed out 'pretenders' or others who may be distorting their past?
How should oral histories be used?
How important is the texture that comes out of oral histories?
Is time slipping away given the relative lack of resources to collect this history?
So, how does someone reading this donate to the archive?
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