I have been watching a television series I will never forget. I don’t want to forget it either. I wish everyone would watch it. It really is deeply compelling. I don’t know if television gets much better than this.
The series is called The Vietnam War (2017) and it was produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick for PBS. The series gets all the credit. I just want to add my personal comments to those in the series from time to time.
I grew up during the time of the War in Vietnam. It is thus very personal for me. I started off as many others did at the time–I believed what I was told by the authorities. I believed it made sense for the Americans to be fighting a war on the far side of the world in order to keep the Communists at bay. I believed the propaganda I had been fed.
When I was in Grade 12 I made entered a public speaking contest in order to make money. I had a chance to win $40. That was a lot of money at that time. I selected as a topic the War in Vietnam and I urged the Americans to do their best to kill those Communists. I am not proud of the position I took. My only excuse is the ignorance of youth and the effectiveness of American propaganda.
Before I had completed the first year of University I had changed my views completely. I joined anti-war marches and could be heard chanting: “Yey, hey, LBJ How many kids did you kill today?”
Even though I had become an opponent of the war, I did not know much about it. What little I had learned convinced me that it was a horrible mistake. After watching the television series I have learned a lot more. Not all I have learned has reinforced what I once thought. In part this was because the producers of the film wisely chose to give the point of view of all sides. They interviewed not just Americans, but also Vietnamese from the south and the north. As the producers have said, “There is no singled truth in war.”
I will deliver a series of reports from my viewing of the series, but I urge everyone to watch the series for themselves. It really is worth the trip.