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The Roots of Orlando’s Vietnamese Community

Exhibition complements Ken Burns-Lynn Novick documentary on the Vietnam War

The limited-run exhibition, Leaving Vietnam: Building a New Life in Central Florida, was on display at the Orange County Regional History Center through November 5.

The exhibition, which coincides with WUCF TV’s presentation of The Vietnam War, the major new documentary series from Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, reveals the experiences of Central Floridians whose lives are inextricably linked to this complex chapter of American history.

The retrospective exhibition uses oral histories, artifacts, and historic photos to explore the war’s significant impact on Central Florida. The Orlando business area near Mills Avenue and State Road 50 (Colonial Drive) is now designated the Mills 50 District, but it has also long been called Little Saigon, reflecting a significant transformation that began in Orlando’s Colonialtown neighborhood with the arrival of Vietnamese people in the late 1970s.

“We’re especially proud that the information in this important exhibition is presented in both English and Vietnamese,” says Michael Perkins, the History Center’s manager. “Leaving Vietnam tells an important story about a vital part of our rich and varied Central Florida community.”

The exhibition not only explores the roots of Central Florida’s Vietnamese community and its impact on leadership, commerce, and Orlando’s food scene but also sheds light on the parts Central Florida veterans played on the front lines and how the experience shaped them.

Active-duty and retired U.S. military personnel (including National Guard members) will receive a $2 discount from History Center general admission prices during this exhibit. Disabled veterans will be admitted at no charge.