A legacy of the Vietnam War

  • Tue Apr 2nd, 2019 1:30am
  • Life

Submitted by San Juan Islands Art Museum

In “A War Never Ends” opening at the San Juan Islands Museum of Art, you can make a striking discovery in one of the galleries.

A box containing several professional-looking photographs resting in their yellow Kodak box was found at the solid waste transfer station by an employee, who is also a Vietnam veteran. He contacted Military Museum director Peter DeLorenzi at the Friday Harbor American Legion Post 163 and turned over the photographs.

Being curious about the pictures, the photographer and how they came to be on San Juan Island, DeLorenzi started looking for a veteran named Cordi. For a while he discovered nothing and the puzzle remained.

Then further research revealed that Donald Cordi was a photographer in Vietnam from 1967–1969. Shortly after returning from Vietnam, Cordi killed himself on Aug. 1, 1969. He was buried at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, Oregon.

Cordi had taken the time to print these photos, so it was determined that he wanted to exhibit them. This is his show 50 years later — the Cordi Collection.

Presented by the San Juan County Vietnam veterans and American Legion posts, “A War Never Ends” opens Friday, April 5, and runs until June 3. Local veterans of the Vietnam War have contributed their own personal experiences to the exhibit.

The accompanying exhibition, “MY WAR: Wartime Photographs by Vietnam Veterans” brings together 72 photos, poems and journal entries of 25 veterans from around the United States. Most of the material was previously kept hidden away, even from family and friends. Many veterans destroyed their photographs taken during the war in order to purge painful memories and close a visceral door to the past.

This is the second showing nationally and first on the West Coast. It opened at the Highground Veterans Memorial Park in Neillsville, Wisconsin, in August 2016.

This exhibition is sponsored by the Dave and Nancy Honeywell Charitable Fund and Gary and Susan Sterner, as well as Printonyx, Harbor Rental and Browne’s Home Center.

Veterans are admitted free for the duration of the show. For more information, go to sjima.org. Hours are Friday–Monday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m., with special hours for Memorial Day weekend.