When I heard about the Ken Burns-Lynn Novik PBS series on the Vietnam War, I had immediate trepidation as to how it would be handled. After watching the entire series, I see that I was right in my feelings.
With the exception of the last episode, which dealt with our fallen brothers and The Wall, the rest of the series was another slap in the face of all the men who served with honor when our country called.
I feel compelled to quote Jim Webb, Marine combat vet, author, former secretary of the Navy and senator from Virginia:
“The sizeable portion of the Vietnam age group who declined to support the counter-culture agenda, and especially the men and women who opted to serve in the military during the Vietnam War, are quite different from their peers who for decades have claimed to speak for them. In fact, they are much like the World war II generation itself. For them Woodstock was a sideshow, college protesters were spoiled brats who would have benefited from having to work a few jobs in order to pay their tuition, and Vietnam represented not an intellectual exercise in draft avoidance or protest marches but a battlefield that was brutal as those their fathers faced in World War II”.
Burns and Novik had the unmitigated gall to hold up Vietnam vets who came home and protested the war -- right they most certainly earned -- as being the spokesperson for all Vietnam vets. To further insult us, they held up a draft evader who fled to Canada. This was shown in the light as a righteous alternative to serving your country.
Where were the interviews with the chopper pilots that came in through shot and shell to pick-up our wounded, drop off ammo or provide close air support? Where were the rank and file infantrymen who through fire and steel beat the enemy at every turn in every battle of consequence? Where were the guys that provided our pay, our food, our transportation, our POL, our logistics and our supplies? They had impact on every soldier that carried an M-16. All served and the vast majority served with honor and were proud, yes proud of their service to our country.
But that is not what America saw. They saw victims -- victims of a corrupt America. And those victims should be pitied and forgiven for their service because, well, they were merely pawns in a war that America had no business being involved in.
The North Vietnamese carried out an invasion into the sovereign country of South Vietnamese. It was not a civil war; it was a war to stop the south being taken over by Communism. There was no mention how Communism, left unchecked, would then spread to Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, the Philippines and then – on to Australia. That was the plan, but the price they paid in Vietnam was so costly that it derailed the entire process and we did that. Yes, we did it at terrible price, but we did it.
So to Burns and Novik, nice try in providing the perfect “I told you so” to all those that scorned us and took steps to ensure they would never serve. But the fact of this matter is that when America called, we answered and did so with honor.