In a conversation with a faculty member recently we talked about the legacies and still gaping wounds from so many of the key events of the 1960s. The 'greatest generation' had, if nothing else, winning WW2 as a framework for the actions, atrocities and horrors of that conflict. For Vietnam, the Civil Rights years, there has always remained unanswered questions, and ongoing (and much belated) releases of key information and documents that forces anyone who lived through these years to relive the pain and the loss - until the wounds are finally seen, acknowledged, we can't help but continue to re-experience the events and horror of these times.
We, as a country, still apparently have so much to learn, to accept about what happened during the 1960s. This time the new information released deals with Nixon's apparent treason in 1968 in thwarting efforts to achieve a peaceful settlement in Vietnam in order to win the presidential election.
Of course, the 1960s have never been simple. The reason Lyndon Baines Johnson found out about Nixon's actions was because his administration was illegally wire-tapping foreign embassies - an who knows what else. Not a simple history to tell.
You can listen to the just-released tapes for yourself here.
Here are some key resources that might help you better understand this era and the issues that still remain:
Sir! No sir! the suppressed story of the GI movement to end the war in Vietnam - This 2006 DVD in the Walter SMART Media collection presents "the untold story of the rebellion of thousands of American soldiers against the war in Vietnam. This movie profiles an event that profoundly impacted American society, yet has been virtually obliterated from memory." 84 min.
Vietnam long time coming - This 2007 DVD tells the story of " the 1998, World T.E.A.M. (The Exceptional Athlete Matters) Sports organized a 16-day, 1,100 mile bicycle expedition through Vietnam from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. The non-profit organization, which focuses on events for the disabled, drew an array of veterans from the U.S. and Vietnam, as well as celebrity riders like Greg La Monde and Senator John Kerry. Past enemies ride as one team in peace across a landscape they once killed to stay alive on. The real finish line is the painful emotional confrontation each rider must make alone along the way." Two hours.
The Vietnam War - This 2008 A&E cable documentary looks at the war. "At a total cost of more than 3.1 million lives, the Vietnam conflict is, to date, America's longest and most controversial war. It also marked the first time TV journalists ventured out to the frontlines to bring the spectacle of combat into American living rooms. Across the nation, Americans watched, captivated by the surprise Tet Offensive, the slow-motion tragedy of the Battle of Khe Sanh, and the courage and skill of the American soldiers. Profiles the decision makers and chronicles the key events in the Vietnam War, from the advisor's arrival in 1959 to the airlift from the roof of the American Embassy in 1975." Over 340 minutes on multiple discs.
Do you remember Vietnam? a report - This 2006 Bullfrog doc takes us back to 1978: " "In 1978, three years after the fall of Saigon, John Pilger went back to Vietnam to find out what had happened under the new regime. He talks with a young tour guide at a war crimes museum, who had been imprisoned in the infamous US tiger cages. He follows a former North Vietnamese soldier into the underground base where he spent 20 years crawling through tunnels undetected. He visits the street in Hanoi that was the target of the largest single aerial bombardment in history. And he shows us the re-education camps where former drug addicts, prostitutes, South Vietnam soldiers, and others are being taught what to think. An he reminds us of the long history of Vietnam's wars for independence. 44% of Vietnam's forests have been decimated, poisonous chemicals have produced babies with deformations, 58,000 Americans and 2-5 million Vietnamese lost their lives. And all of this suffering was for what? "To stop the spread of Chinese communism" was the rationale. And yet, Pilger argues, if we had let them form their own independent state in the late 1940s, what probably would have emerged is what is emerging now -- a kind of Asian Yugoslavia." 52 min.
My Lai - PBS documentary: "The words 'My Lai' are seared into our memories of the Vietnam War, but few know what really happened in the small Vietnamese village on March 16, 1968. Now, drawing on 400 hours of recently discovered audio recordings and new interviews with participants, eye witnesses, and investigators, the complete story can finally be told about one of the most shocking atrocities in modern times, and about lesser-known acts of remarkable courage." 90 min.
The fog of war eleven lessons from the life of Robert S. McNamara - " The story of America as seen through the eyes of the former Secretary of Defense, under President Kennedy and President Johnson, Robert S. McNamara. McNamara was one of the most controversial and influential political figures of the 20th century. Now, he offers a candid and intimate journey through some of the most seminal events in contemporary American history. He offers new and often surprising insights into the 1945 bombing of Tokyo, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the effects of the Vietnam War." 2004, 107 min.
We have over 150 videos on Vietnam and the war in our collections. If these don't look that interesting...I'm sure we have what you'd need to better understand this era and its lasting impact on our country and culture.