What’s Going On – Songs from the Vietnam Era
FEW Members, please note: this meeting will be a virtual Zoom meeting. Upon registration, you will receive a confirmation email with the Zoom link.
What’s Going On is a concert experience that uses narration, song, video, and photography from the 1960’s to provide the audience a multi-media deep dive into the Vietnam War.
Through music, imagery and story, this concert looks at the experiences of our Vietnam Veterans both on the war-front and on the home-front. Vietnam Veterans discuss their combat experiences and what it was like when they returned home. These stories are punctuated by the music of the sixties played expertly by the band The Fabulous Armadillos. The show closes on a positive and healing note with the songs “Let It Be” and “God Bless America”. At the end of the show veterans from all conflicts are asked to stand and be recognized. They are lifted up and embraced by the audience. As one band member said of the show, “This is why we do what we do. We moved people’s souls.” – Jeff Engholm.
This program brings together veterans, service-members, their families, the artistic community and the general public. It addresses absent voices within our veteran community by giving veterans a stage and platform to communicate to the general public about how they have at times have been marginalized, or otherwise absent from our education and public awareness. This is a new and innovative program that is an extension of the Minnesota Remembers Vietnam project which took place on the St. Paul capitol lawn in July of 2018.
This production offers a new way to engage with our veteran community by looking to our past. As one Vietnam veteran says during the show, “When we think of our divisions today, they pale in comparison to how badly we were divided back then”.
This perspective from a person who lived through the tumultuous times of the “60’s” gives the audience hope and an outlook that they may have heretofore forgotten.
Moreover, by engaging the audience through the power of music and imagery, the show covertly addresses the issues of veteran mental health, and veteran suicide.
Ken Burns, the famous documentarian, posits that the Vietnam War was the most divisive event in United States history since the Civil War. This show which honors the Vietnam Veteran without belittling those who opposed the war strikes a harmonious chord between the two groups. Said one Marine who attended the show, “The concert is another step-in demonstrating support for our veterans. However, this concert accomplishes much more! While it helps to close the gap, it also serves as a healing for veterans and their families.” – Samuel Verdeja, USMC, Vietnam 1969-1970.
BIO: Maj. John Donovan is a person in long-term recovery with over 40 years of sobriety. John is the founder and director of the Recovery Community Network (RCN). The RCN is a nonprofit Recovery Community Organization devoted to strengthening the recovery community in Central Minnesota. John is passionate about recovery and speaks and lectures frequently to audiences nationwide on substance use disorder and recovery therefrom. He frequently blogs on recovery and he serves as an advisor to St. Cloud State University’s Recovery Community.
John holds a Master’s of Education degree from Boston University and a bachelor’s degree from St. Cloud State University. He is certified by the Department of Defense as an Employment Mediator and an Equal Employment Opportunity Advisor. John retired from the Minnesota Army National Guard in 2018 after 27 years of total service.
Major Donovan is a graduate of the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, the Army Public Affairs Course, the Command and General Staff College and the Shannon Leadership Institute. His military decorations include the: Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Accommodation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Outstanding Military Volunteer Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal and the NATO Medal. He has deployed three times since 9/11 once to Bosnia and twice to Iraq.
He is married and has a daughter, step-daughter, two grandsons and a granddaughter. His hobbies include golf, traveling and the performing arts.