Jim Pollock Art main page

Vietnam Combat Art Home Page

First published in RIVER LIFE, Pierre, SD. 57501

Vol. 5 No. 01, August 14, 2003, page 18


EDITORS NOTE: On Tuesday July 15, Pierre artist Jim Pollock gave a presentation about the U.S. Army Vietnam Combat Art Program at the U.S. Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. We asked Jim to keep some notes and report back to us about his presentation.

© By Jim Pollock

THE INVITE "Lecture at Library of Congress." was the subject line of an e-mail I received dated May 22, 2003.

Everyday I get between 35 and 70 junk e-mails. If the e-mail file size is over 8K it stays on the access server except for the subject and the first few lines of the body (which are directed to my "trash" file). By reading the addresses and subject lines of these e-mails I direct welcome messages from the "trash" box into my "in" box. I can go through 75 e-mails in less than five minutes with this system.

I'm not sure why I directed the one that said "Lecture at Library of Congress" to my "in" box. A subject line like that is right up there with "Miracle pill knocks off pounds without dieting or exercising". Normally I would have thrown it out, especially since the address it came from was not a government address.

The body of the message read: "Jim, I work at the Library of Congress where I am the coordinator of the Library of Congress Professional Association (LCPA) Veterans Forum. We are an employee organization that invites veterans to talk about their books—in your case art… There is no format to follow as it is whatever the author/veteran wants to talk about. We like to keep it informal with questions and answer segments. If you are interested please let me know. You will be the first combat artist invited to speak. Thanks".--David Moore, Coordinator, LCPA Veterans Forum (Vietnam 1971)

I responded and it was in fact a real invitation from the LCPA Veterans Forum to lecture at the Library of Congress. David Moore said he would like for me to come and talk about my art and experiences while participating in the U.S. Army Vietnam Combat Art Program in 1967. He had visited my web site and found it interesting and thought members of the LCPA would also find it interesting.

Betsy and I, along with Stephanie and the two grand kids Allyson and Dominique were going to be in the Washington D.C./Maryland area the middle of July. I wrote back and asked if that it would be convenient for me to speak at the Library of Congress in the middle of July since I would be in the area anyway. David Moore said that would be fine, but he needs 30 days prior notice to reserve lecture rooms. He told me to name the date and he would see if he could reserve a lecture room.

Tuesday, July 15 was the date I chose. I asked if they could line up a lecture room that had a screen and I would give a visual presentation.

On June 5 David Moore wrote back "got you the Pickford Theater, 12:30-1:30, July 15. There is a foyer and desk for signing after the presentation." He also said the necessary equipment to project a computer screen to the theater screen would be hooked up and ready for my use.


The LCPA has a membership of over 1,600 current and retired Library of Congress employees. The LCPA was started in the late 1960s. Since David took over the Veterans Forum he says he as made an effort to invite quality speakers the membership will find interesting. LCPA Veterans Forums lectures are also open to the general public. I was to be the 7th speaker this year.

Other speakers in this year's LCPA Veterans Forum series were Martin Blumenson (Patton's Staff), Dorothea Von Schwanenflugel (American Occupation of Berlin), James Webb, Joe Owen (Chosin Reservoir), Anthony Swofford (Gulf War), Mike Benge (Vietnam era Marine who spent five years in captivity). Speakers later this year will include Phil Caputo (Author of Rumor of War), Will Ehrhart (former Marine fought at Hue during Tet) and Joseph Galloway (reporter trapped at Battle of Ia Drang with 7th Cavalry). Joseph Galloway along with Harold G. Moore authored the book We Were Soldiers Once--And Young of which a movie was also made.


The Library of Congress was founded in 1800. It consists of three buildings, its first permanent building now called the Thomas Jefferson Building was opened in 1897. The John Adams Building was completed in 1939 and the most modern building the James Madison Memorial Building was opened in 1980.

The Library of Congress is the world's largest repository of knowledge and creativity and is a symbol of democracy and the principles on which the nation was founded. The collections include more than 28 million cataloged books and other print materials in 460 languages; the largest rare book collection in North America; and the world's largest collection of legal materials, films, maps, sheet music and sound recordings.

The Copyright Office is also part of the Library of Congress. It is located on the 4th floor of the Madison Building. They handle 600,000 new registrations every year.


My first entrance into the the Library of Congress left me puzzled. I passed through a security check point much like at an airport. Once past security the lobby was a big empty space, not library looking at all. The halls were empty, how could this be part of the largest depository of knowledge in the world? Where were all the books?

David Moore was my contact and he had asked me to call him when arrived. I went back to the security desk and picked up a house phone and called him. David arrived in the lobby shortly. He was a tall slim man. He had told me earlier that he had been a 1971 Vietnam Veteran. We shook hands and he invited me to his office area.

We took an elevator, turned a few corners and walked into one of the hubs of the Den of Knowledge. It was great, there were rows and rows of cubicles and people with books and publications stacked all over. I was happy I had entered the Den and seen for myself, there are books at the Library of Congress.

David Moore's job at the Library of Congress is Acquisitions Assistant, Northern European Acquisitions Section. He has a BA in German Language and Literature. He specializes in the acquisition of German books. He says out of the 80,000 or so German books published each year the Library of Congress acquires close to 5,000 German books.

In addition to his full time job of acquiring German Language and Literature, David took on the job of coordinating the Veterans Forum for the LCPA. He is well respected by his peers for the job he is doing bringing new life to the LCPA Veterans Forum. Tara Spiegel, Program Officer for the Veterans History Project, said of David Moore, "He is one of the unsung heroes at the Library of Congress."

Next David invited me to the lunch room in the lower level where we visited over tea and coffee.

He told me how excited he was about this particular presentation. He said it will be the first time he has invited a soldier artist to talk about war art. Most of the presentations until now have been by authors.

I thanked him and told him I was very appreciative of the opportunity to speak about the army's soldier art program.


As we visited I said that I would really like to have this presentation copyrighted. If things worked out I would like to make the CD of the presentation available to schools and libraries.

"No problem," he said. "Lets go do that right now, the copyright office is on the 4th floor."

With that we got up and went directly up to the 4th floor to the copyright office.

Moore introduced me and told the person that I was about to give a presentation and that I would like to obtain an official copyright.

The man pulled out a form and asked me a few questions and told me to check this box or that box based on my answers. I signed my name several times, gave the man a CD of the presentation as a deposit, gave him $30 in cash and he handed me a receipt and said, "You are covered. You will get the official registered copyright in the mail in a few weeks, but with this receipt you are covered as of right now." With that he took the CD, sealed it in a plastic bag and put it with the copyright application.

I told the man "Thank you," and David and I turned to leave.

The whole process took about 10 minutes.

As we left I said to David, "You know, I have had many copyrights registered in the past. Everyone of them took weeks and sometimes months to process. There would be a little mistake and they would send it back and it would take weeks to get reprocessed. This was so fast, it is hard to believe it happened this fast."

Moore just shrugged his shoulders and said, "Glad I could help."


The Mary Pickford Theater is where I was to make the presentation at 12:30 on July 15.

It was early and I wanted to go to the 3rd floor where the Mary Pickford Theater was located. I looked in the door, there was another presentation going on.

The Theater was named after the renowned actress and producer Mary Pickford. The theater is intimate and seats up to 64. It is set up to handle film screenings, lectures and briefings. The Pickford family had donated funds to support the theater and one of their requirements is that a free old time movie be shown free to the public once a week.

The room has a built in theater screen and a booth for projecting various formats of media. There are at least four rows of comfortable seats on a sloping floor. Below the screen is a small stage and to the right of the screen is a podium with a microphone. It was an ideal location and environment for giving the presentation I had prepared.


David's original suggestion was that I talk about my own art and experience. The U.S. Army Vietnam Combat Art Program was more than just my art. There were over 40 other artists that did the same thing I did and I felt they should also be included in the presentation. Over the past 5 years I had done a lot of research on the other artists. I had made contact with at least one person on each of the other 9 teams that had set foot in Vietnam.

I called David and told him I would like to expand this presentation and try to cover all of the artists that participated in the program. I told him I already had many contacts and thought I could put together a digital slide show that would show photographs of each of the artists in context with their team along with at least two pieces of art of each artist.

"You can do what you want, you have the stage", said David.

I had a little over a month to pull this all together. I contacted as many of the former artists as I could, told them about the presentation and asked if they would help by sending photos of themselves and their respective teams of artists.

I was overwhelmed by the cooperation I got from the other artists. They sent photos of themselves in the field and in the studios working. Renee Klish, curator for the Army Art Collection provided me with images of art for the artists that I did not already have samples of. I put the images together in a format that could be burned to a CD. I carried the CD to Washington and used a computer and projector available at the PIckford Theater.

This was the first public presentation where the historical collection of army Vietnam war art was presented in the context of all of the individual artists and their particular teams.

Auggie Acuna was also a Vietnam Combat Artist (CAT II) and happened to be in the Washington, D.C. area. He came and participated in the question and answer session that followed the presentation.

Renee Klish, Army Art Curator and Gene Snyder a recent army soldier artist also participated in the questions and answer period.

The presentation went well and I think it was well received. One employee of the Library of Congress wrote me a very nice note in which he said "I am not a Veteran myself, but attend LCPA Veteran programs because they are always valuable—Yours was outstanding."

I have the visual part of the presentation on CD and it takes about an hour to give. For any organization, veterans group or school that has access to equipment that projects a computer screen I would be glad to give the presentation. I have also looked into the possibility of broadcasting the presentation over the local access channel for public viewing, but nothing definite has been arranged at this time.

Cut-lines for photos used with article but not included here:

After Jim Pollock's presentation, there was a question and answer session. Participating in the Q & A were, from left to right, Gene Snyder (a recent soldier artist), Auggie Acuna (Vietnam combat art team II), Renee Klish (Curator, Army Art Collection) and Jim Pollock (Vietnam combat art team IV).

At the podium of the Mary Pickford Theater, Jim Pollock talks about the U.S. Army Vietnam Combat Art program.

Jim Pollock in front of Library of Congress (Jefferson Building).


Vietnam Combat Art Home Page