The Vietnam War
About the Film
Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s new 10-part, 18-hour documentary series tells the epic story of one of the most consequential, divisive, and controversial events in American history as it has never before been told on film. The series explores the human dimensions of the war through revelatory testimony of nearly 80 witnesses from all sides—Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as combatants and civilians from North and South Vietnam. Learn More
The Vietnam War
By Emily Bodfish
Remember Gabriel died on Asian shores,
To a wife and child he will return no more,
They heard that brave man say,
I would give my life for the Green Beret.
These were the original closing lines of “The Ballad of the Green Berets,” a song written in honor of James Gabriel Jr., the first Special Forces officer, and the first soldier from Hawaiʻi, killed during the Vietnam conflict. The song would later be revised and popularized, hitting number one on the Billboard charts for five weeks in 1966. It was one of the few songs of the era that shed a positive light on the military, as support for the war drastically declined over the years that followed.
“The Vietnam War was a decade of agony that took the lives of more than 58,000 Americans,” said Ken Burns, whose newest epic documentary, The Vietnam War, begins Sunday, September 17 at 8:00 pm. “Not since the Civil War have we as a country been so torn apart.”
The Vietnam War is a 10-part, 18-hour documentary that provides a 360-degree perspective on the war’s events. It delves deep into the experiences of Americans who fought in and fought against the war, as well as Vietnamese combatants and civilians from both the winning and losing sides.
In addition to the nearly 80 witnesses featured in Burns’ film, PBS Hawaiʻi will bring you intimate interviews with local Vietnam veterans and the families of service members killed in battle. Excerpts from these local interviews will be shown preceding each episode of the Kens Burns series.
The local veterans related their memories of duty, uncertainty, loss and recovery representing Hawaiʻi, the newly minted 50th star on the U.S. flag.
Green Beret veteran Roy Ogasawara described moments of bonding with Vietnamese counterparts, eating together with chopsticks and seeing how similar their skin tones were. Yet, he was advised to be wary of Viet Cong spies. “In the fierce firefights, an American adviser would be killed, and when they examined the bullet hole, the bullet came from the back, not from the front,” Ogasawara said. Even before landing in Vietnam, Ogasawara knew he was entering uncertain territory. “Even as a well-trained paratrooper, a Green Beret, a ranger…I didn’t know what to expect,” he said.
Hawai‘iʻs Own and Their Stories
Ron Schaedel, a retired Marine, touched on his struggle with post-traumatic stress syndrome, and his concern for his own sons in the military. “I’ve got PTSD to the max, I’m trying to deal with my own issues, and I’m worried about my two boys, but who’s the rock? My wife,” he said. “I owe my health and my life to my wife.” To this day, he said, “I take it a day at a time, and life goes on.”
This film is not an answer to what was left unresolved after the war. Rather, it’s an effort to weave together opposing perspectives, pose questions and open up dialogue that may lead to healing, and eventually, closure.
The Vietnam War, begins Sunday, September 17 at 8:00 pm
Déjà Vu (1858-1961) | Tues., Oct. 3, 9:00 pm
Riding the Tiger (1961-1963) | Tues., Oct. 3, 10:30 pm
The River Styx (January 1964-December 1965) | Tues., Oct. 10, 9:00 pm
Resolve (January 1966-June 1967) | Tues., Oct. 17, 9:00 pm
This Is What We Do (July 1967-December 1967) | Tues., Oct. 24, 9:00 pm
Things Fall Apart (January 1968-July 1968) | Tues., Oct. 31, 9:00 pm
The Veneer of Civilization (June 1968-May 1969) | Tues., Nov. 7, 9:00 pm
The History of the World (April 1969-May 1970) | Tues., Nov. 14, 9:00 pm
A Disrespectful Loyalty (May 1970-March 1973) | Tues., Nov. 21, 9:00 pm
The Weight of Memory (March 1973-Onward) | Tues., Nov. 28, 9:00 pm