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Oct 12, 2017
Bonoman All-American
Just finished the Ken Burns documentary on Viet Nam....(Spoilers)
If you haven't had the chance to view the series it is available at PBS.com or their PBS app for streaming. I highly recommend it. I was in elementary school when American involvement in Viet Nam was at its peak. As a result I didn't understand what was happening at the time. I didn't know how torn the country was and the divisions it caused in families, friends, etc. The politics, social movements and geo-politics of the time later become known to me in a general way, but the series does a great job of reconstructing the story beginning with French occupation through the fall of Saigon to the aftermath.

My views of presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon (kind of knew he was already a sleazebag) have forever been altered. They sold young men's lives to further their politics, position themselves for election success and undercut their rivals. I am not sure how any of their other accomplishments make up for their failing in Viet Nam. Actually listening to them talk about waiting for bombing campaigns after speeches or troop escalation after elections was truly horrifying. Even after Robert McNamara told LBJ there was no way forward that included an American/South Vietnamese victory he continued to press on out of personal vanity and political expediency.

Learning about marines being ordered to drive Viet Cong off a hill, then leave and relinquish it back to the Viet Cong only to return again with orders to drive them off the hill again was insanity. The series dives into a number of other questionable decisions and flawed thinking as well. Marines, CIA operatives, government officials, Viet Cong, ARVIN, reporters from all sides of the conflict add to the narrative. As with any Ken Burns project it blends the personal experience with the historical narrative. Getting the perspective of both sides showed how everyone suffered and in the end never found a satisfactory result.

My heart goes out to members of the military and their families and especially the men that died. I respect their courage and dedication.

I visited the Viet Nam memorial a couple of years ago. I wish I had been able to watch this documentary prior to my visit. The memorial makes a lot more sense to me now then it did then. I look forward to visiting again with a deeper understanding of what it represents.
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