Missing Piece Project: A Collective Imagining

The Missing Piece Project (MPP) is an annual staging of a collective intervention that symbolically and physically disrupts American remembrance (and erasure) of the Vietnam War. MPP calls for a collective dedication of objects at the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. each April 30 by marginalized communities still affected by legacies of the war. Two pilot dedications have occured (2018 and 2019) and continue annually, building towards a large-scale collective gathering on April 30, 2025, the 50th anniversary of the war's "end" and the beginning of many refugee journeys that continue today.

In addition to objects being physically archived in the Vietnam Collection of the National Parks Museum Resource Center, MPP has created a digital community archive to provide insights into objects and the intangible performative elements of our collective dedications. In 2015, before MPP existed, only six objects could be confirmed to have been left by Vietnamese people at the Wall, out of hundreds of thousands in the Vietnam Collection. MPP carves out space for marginalized communities in this public memorial, demanding recognition of the experiences and imagination of displaced peoples affected by the war's legacy, through a polyphony of stories.

As the project develops in coming years, we ask questions about how to extend narrations of the Vietnam War in contending with other affected populations across the U.S. and transnationally. For example, how do we remember the experiences of millions of Black Americans forced into the war at disproportionate rates by a military draft reliant on the dispossession of individual autonomy? Or, how do we remember the historical solidarities between anti-colonial Black and Asian Americans in the U.S. and Vietnamese people across the world resisting U.S. imperialism? MPP is a community archive interested in remembering the war capaciously, challenging U.S. imperialism at large.

—Dr. Kim Tran, Leader of the Missing Piece Project

Antonius Bui (they/them), a queer, gender-nonbinary Vietnamese-American artist, is currently a Fine Arts Work Center fellow in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Dr. Kim Nguyen Tran is an arts educator, ethnomusicologist and community organizer based in Los Angeles. Kim lectures in the Asian American Studies Department at UCLA.