Last night I watched Part 2 of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s “Vietnam”; the previous night I watched Part 1, and if at all possible I will watch all 10. You can access Parts 1 through 5 at your local Public Broadcasting System station. Twin Cities TPT is here. PBS is here.
Part 2 was of particular significance to me, personally. It covered 1961-63.
In 1961 I graduated from College (December); 1962-63, by happenstance, I was in an Army Infantry Company (app 140 people) being prepared for Vietnam. (Ultimately, 27 from that company were killed in Vietnam 1968-71). My own story is the last of five, told here, a few days ago.
Except for 1961, I didn’t experience 1961-63 like civilians back home, or like “advisors” actually in Vietnam. We were neither. Anybody who has ever been in military service as an enlisted man can recount what military service was like, in training mode, which was, for us, our entire tour. The Cuban Missile Crisis did happen on my “watch”.
The dying in Vietnam from our small company came for others, years later. One or more of them probably started out from my barracks, my bunk; all of them one time or another were in our day room, in Company C. Some other Company Clerk recorded their presence or absence each day. Then reality intruded.
I have a great number of thoughts, even now, only after watching two episodes.
Shortly after the last episode I’ll post my thoughts, and those of anyone else who wishes to reflect back about what Vietnam means to them. My teaser: Vietnam is by no means some old war, long behind us. We continue to live within the futility of war as a means of solving problems.
My e-mail: dick_bernardATmsnDOTcom.
Watch, learn, reflect and share. We can learn from this.