Over the past couple of months we've run several articles here on Ken Burns The Vietnam War documentary.
There was no effort to balance the comments, but to regular readers of this blog, you understand muleorations attracts readers of the Duty, Honor and Country persuasion. Who take their patriotism seriously, almost as a religion. Don't make light of Jesus on the cross. Don't in any way disrespect our Flag. And we'll get along.
Among the disciples of my Patriotism religion is Mark Smith aka the Zip. He and I together began collecting reactions on the Burns series from those worthy of our cause to put in the series.
What follows below is the Zipper's final word.
For the past couple of months I have not been as active on muleorations as I have been in the past. It isn't because I haven't had thoughts and quandaries that I think you might enjoy, it's that I have been busy, and expect to stay busy through the holidays.
Pls stay tuned, though. You might want to go back in search of essays of years ago to find worthwhile reading, and write to give me feed back. Especially use this time to pass on ideas and stories you think I might find interesting.
In the mean time here are some thoughts on life its ownself by one of the SEALs who took down Osama bin Laden.
Pls take a moment and watch...
While I watched only the last episode on the evacuation from Vietnam, that did not include what happened in Can Tho, I read many comments from a great variety of people on their overall impressions.
Most said it was well done TV by someone looking in at the war and from interviews of selected participants.
What it did not convey was war, because that is an incommunicable experience.
No one can know the Vietnam war unless they were there.
In the summer of 2017 Dallas Cowboy tight end Jason Witten suggested that the team wear police decals on their helmets as a tribute to the 5 policemen who lost their lives in a shoot out with a crazy black terrorist in Dallas in 2016.
Cowboy management went along with the idea, however Robert Goodell CEO of the NFL said no. Not during the pre-season and not during the regular season.
But when it came to blacks kneeling during the National Anthem, Goodell said it was inappropriate to deny player's their freedom of speech.
How do you reconcile that without coming to the conclusion that Goodell is a black racist.
Here's what I think, If the NFL owners get rid of Goodell, and his 20 million dollars a year salary, they take a step towards recovery of its tarnished reputation. His idea of what's even-handed and fair is not in keeping with NFL customers.
What follows is a two day back and forth exchange between a country lawyer, Pat Vale, and a retired senior grade CIA intelligence officer, Dommie Periello. One watched the entire series, one didn't. Both have been friends of mine for many years.
Some of the angst from Vets that a known liberal was goin' go on for 18 hours on his idea of Their War, seems to have subsided. Other than individual comments I and Zippo receive, and that are posted on this thread, there's no buzz out there in media land about the series. I don't know the viewer numbers, but I wouldn't be surprised if there is lagging interest across the country. Vietnam has gone from what one friend described as a "big mess" to just a big yawn. Maybe it's me but I don't hear as many boos anymore, or much applause.
There is the idea that Burns is making the case that the US men and women who answered their country's call and went to Vietnam - all 3 million of them - executed bad US policy and appropriately lost. Bill Sullivan was one of the top dozen or so war planners in the Kennedy/LBJ administration. He's what he had to say in retirement: “The great irony of our involvement in Vietnam is that we were better off having lost the war than we would have been if we had won it.”
Burns would probably agree, comparing the efforts of those valiant young American boys and girls who went to war in southeast Asia, to maybe the brown shirts in German in the mid 1930s who went to the streets to promote Hilter's policies.
That's one way to look at the Vietnam experience, that history making overarching look, but that shows no signs of sweat, and fear, and friendships and acts of courage, and the taste of a cold beer in middle of a hot jungle, or the challenges and rush of adrenaline in times of danger or the act of listening for the enemy like an animal on a jungle floor in the middle of the night. Meaty, men stuff. Not politics and policy work. I ask you as an individual, which is the more meaningful human experience?
Here are a couple of comments that have come in recently on the series, starting with what Dennis Myers' had to say. He and I returned to UNC after our combat tour in Vietnam. Me with the 1st Division, Dennis with Special Forces:
Picture seems to say a lot about the attitude of Chicago's blacks towards law and order.
And NFL players knell during our National Anthem in support of this?
Pls tell me what's goin' on?
Good comment Mr. Thompson. I agree,
First the Bad:
This individual who has reached into the history bind that has a trillion items on the Vietnam War and selected a few to convey his idea of what went on is a strong, enthusiastic, lifelong supporter of the Democratic Party, with almost $180,000 in political donations. The Democratic National Committee chose Burns to produce an introductory video for Senator Edward Kennedy's August 2008 speech to the Democratic National Convention, a video described by Politico as a "Burns-crafted tribute casting him [Kennedy] as the modern Ulysses bringing his party home to port. In August 2009, Kennedy died, and Burns produced a eulogy video for, and again at, his funeral for the Kennedy Estate. He strongly endorsed Barack Obama for the U.S. presidency in December 2007 comparing Obama on multiple occasions to Abraham Lincoln.
He will tell you he is a master film maker, but resolute in his political beliefs.
Hard to image that he can be objective on such a political issue as Vietnam.
Now the Good:
Zippo, who started this thread last week, recommends the following link:
It's Dr James Willbank talking. He is a former Infantryman who contributed to the Ken Burns series and feels Burns and his co-producer did a good job.
Zippo said that in all his past dealing, he found the good Dr. Willbank to be a creditable historian and went on to say, "I may not agree with him but neither do I think he can be bought."
Willbank said that Burns' series is objective.
Also another friend, Mike Haas, author and retired USAF Special Operations Colonel said that he has found much to like about the series, and the way it has answered some questions he has harbored for years.