Lynn Novick and Ken Burns have collaborated to produce a documentary that is a must see for every American.
It covers the war from all sides and does justice to both the military and political aspects. There are so many quotes from those interviewed that are striking, it’s clear why it took ten years to complete.
To watch it requires opening up my mind and my heart to the experiences. I’ve watched their Civil War series numerous times, but Vietnam raises the issue of “Too soon?”
No. It’s perfect timing. Our country was torn apart by that war and our country is torn apart now.
We’ve gone from looking down on combat veterans to the ubiquitous “thank you for your service” without understanding the journey and the hypocrisy between a draft army and an all volunteer army.
As a former North Vietnamese soldier says early on (I’ve only watched the first three episodes and it keeps me awake, thinking): “It has been 40 years. . . . In war, no one wins or loses. There is only destruction. Only those who have never fought like to argue about who won and who lost.”
Listening to President Johnson’s own words on tape is staggering. To understand the duplicity of a government that knew as early as 64–65 that the war wasn’t winnable, yet didn’t have the courage to make a decision in line with that knowledge is sobering and makes you think hard of what we’ve done since 9–11.
This is a series of personal stories and national stories. We need to hear them and take them to heart.
Originally published at bobmayer.com on September 22, 2017.