CUMMING, Ga. — The Cumming Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America recently reviewed the 10 episode, 18-hour Ken Burns series entitled “Vietnam.”
The series was the topic of open discussion at the chapter’s September meeting. Some found it too difficult to watch, but for most of those who viewed it, hearing the stories of the South Vietnamese people, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army members provided a perspective that they had not heard before.
The members said they were angered about the ineptitude of the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations in prosecuting the war and what the veterans viewed as the government’s dishonesty with the American people about the war.
One common opinion expressed during the discussion was that the series tended to depict the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese soldiers in a more positive light than the American military who spent nearly two decades in Vietnam to help the people of South Vietnam to prevent a communist victory.
“To me, for the guys who fought there and the guys that died, this series disrespected their memory,” said Chapter President Gary Ely.
“I thought it was heavily skewed toward the anti-war movement,” said member David Dever. “I thought Ken Burns did a disservice to our veterans.”
Another member, Jim Garner said he thought the series presented the American side in a poor light and the program, “opened up a lot of old wounds.”
Perhaps one of the most interesting points of view came from Van Marosek of Lawrenceville, a Vietnamese refugee who along with her family was rescued by the American military from Saigon as the city was about to fall to communist forces.
“I just don’t believe that the Vietnam Veterans, my heroes, were presented in a respectful, proper and truthful manner,” Marosek said. “It is very difficult to watch history being misrepresented.”
Irrespective of how television viewers assess the series, it clearly remains a defining moment for these veterans and a turning point in our history. One indisputable fact is that more than 58,000 Americans died and untold thousands still bear the scars of the Vietnam War.