Episode 989 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature the opinions of Vietnam Veteran, John Medlin, about the Vietnam War documentary created by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Medlin’s viewpoints were published in The Santa Monica Daily Press in a piece titled: Your Column Here: Ken Burns “The Vietnam War.” He attended a forty-eight minute introductory premier of Ken Burns’ documentary at the Ace Hotel Theater in downtown Los Angeles. The theater’s 1,600 seats were about 95% full. After the showing, there was a 30-45 minute discussion with a panel of six persons including Burns and Novick and Merrill McPeak, retired 4-star General and former Air Force Chief of Staff.
General McPeak stated that he felt “Burns’ documentary will become the defining history of the Vietnam War because today’s highly visual society rarely reads books, that its excellent craftsmanship will make it the accepted History of the War.”
Medlin begged to differ with the general’ opinion. He had hoped there would be a balanced showing including the bravery and sacrifices made by the South Vietnamese people, especially their military. Of the 48 minutes preview, approximately thirty-five percent was devoted to the bravery and sacrifices of the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese, thirty percent to the U.S. military and anti-war protests, and the balance to the plight and destruction of Vietnamese society.
After watching the 48 minute preview Medlin is hopeful the entire 18-hour series will be more balanced than the preview. As a result of his work in civil affairs with the South Vietnamese people and military in I Corps he strongly feels the whole story must be told. Also he feels that the testimony of the tens of thousands of “boat people” who by the tens of thousands risked their lives to flee Viet Nam after the Communist takeover in 1975 demand a balanced account of the war.
Get more about this difficult issue in episode 989.