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The Vietnam War: Historical Fact or Fiction?

Caricature of SteveI am always uncomfortable reading or viewing purported histories of events through which I lived. I concede that my perceptions are colored by my emotional reactions of the time and they do not fade over the years. This is true of the war in Vietnam.

Professor Charles Hill recently criticized “The Vietnam War” documentary by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.

I was a college student during the mid to late 1960s. I saw the campus anti-war protests and heard the speeches decrying the state of American society as Charles Hill relates here. One of my sociology professors was a communist who later was fired because he failed ever student in his class as a political protest against the U.S. military. Such was the era that surrounded me and affected my opinions.

As a result, I prefer to study history separated by time and distance. This detachment allows me to approach the accounts of World Wars I and II with no emotional bias. The Civil War, likewise, is easier to evaluate because I have no personal investment.

This is why I did not watch “The Vietnam War” by Burns and Novick. My feelings about the war may have eased with the decades. But they are fundamentally unchanged. And the Burns and Novick documentary would neither have altered by opinions nor contributed to my extant understanding of the conflict.

Because I did not view the series, I can’t evaluate it and won’t comment on the opinions of others including Mr. Hill.

However, I believe future historians—untethered by personal and emotional ties—will be able to record a more objective, balanced and accurate assessment of the time and conflict.

I suspect and hope that my children and granddaughters will have a better perspective of that era as they survey the historical horizon from the vantage of time and distance.


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