For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Colleen Kelly

Veteran Group Reacts To First Episode Of Burns/Novick Vietnam Series

WASHINGTON - Veterans For Peace (VFP)  members in every U.S. time zone and beyond tuned in to watch the first episode of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s PBS documentary, “The Vietnam War” to see how well it squares with what they know about what the Vietnamese call “the American War in Vietnam.”
The opening scenes and the program as a whole showed that the U.S. has not come very far, in terms of learning from it’s mistakes. 

Executive Director, Michael McPhearson, a veteran of the Gulf War, states, “Watching the documentary, I was struck by how little has changed from then to now or gotten worse. In Afghanistan, Iraq and around the globe our government continues to attempt to force whole nations into compliance, using the same failed and depraved strategies used in Vietnam. The documentary portrayal  of the U.S. troop buildup in  Vietnam  shows how quick the U.S. government uses fear of “the other” to justify brutal violence. It is the same fear cultivated in Islamophobic, anti-immigrant and general xenophobic rhetoric used today to pit people against each other at home and to justify wars abroad.  This formula of fear and racism used in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq is being used in the streets of my city right now to justify the killing of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith and other black and brown people across the country.”
Doug Rawlings, who served in an Army artillery unit in Vietnam from 1969-70, watched the first episode at his home in central Maine and had this to say: “It was certainly engaging,”   but Rawlings noted “When the narrator says early on that “America’s involvement in Vietnam…was begun in good faith, by decent people, out of fateful misunderstandings.’  The U.S. did everything it could to keep Vietnam a French colony and failing that to make it an American one, no matter the cost.  Burns and Novick actually show that pretty clearly, yet they still say it was begun in good faith?  That just shows how powerful the myth that America is always on the side of the angels.”

Veterans For Peace continues their work on several initiatives in Vietnam and in the U.S. towards accountability for the legacies of the Vietnam War.  To see a full list of our projects, visit our Press Kit.

Veterans For Peace members have also re-printed a newspaper, Full Disclosure, that focuses on telling the truth about Vietnam and are distributing it at the many public, community events that surround the documentary.

Veterans Available for Interviews.


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Veterans For Peace is a national organization founded in 1985. It is structured around a national office in Saint Louis, MO and comprised of members across the country organized in chapters or as at-large members. The organization includes men and women veterans of all eras and duty stations including from the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), World War II, the Korean, Vietnam, Gulf and current Iraq wars as well as other conflicts. Our collective experience tells us wars are easy to start and hard to stop and that those hurt are often the innocent. Thus, other means of problem solving are necessary.

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