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The Power of Vietnam on PBS

September 29, 2017

Since I can remember, I've always been interested in storytelling and history. In fact, it's what makes me who I am. 

 

I became obsessed with the conflict in Vietnam in the mid to late 1980s. I think it was a combination of movies coming out around that time (Platoon, Hamburger Hill, and Full Metal Jacket) and my discovery of Marvel's Nam Magazine (sidenote: Just found one of my original copies from back in the day) that fueled my interest.

 

However, I know the primary reason for my interest is that Vietnam was it was the war of my parents' generation. I wanted to know all about it from them. What were people talking about in the 1960s? Did they know anyone who went to Vietnam? What about the draft? 

 

Around the same time I bombarded my parents with questions, I toyed with the idea of becoming a comic artist. One of the first jets I tried to draw was the F-4 Phantom. Ironically, this was also the era when I first start dreaming of Star Runners, so I also drew my initial sketches of what would later become the Trident. In the end, I realized I wasn't very good at drawing. Instead, I focused on telling stories through words and off I went. 

 

By the time I entered middle school, I had considered myself relatively knowledgeable about the conflict in Vietnam. Boy, I was wrong. 

 

As I proceeded through school and my graduate studies, I learned how little I understood about the conflict. What was interesting about Vietnam was that the more I learned, the less I felt I knew about the war. In some ways, I still feel that way. 

 

I started watching Ken Burns' series on Vietnam the day after the first episode aired thanks to the PBS app. I couldn't stop watching. Never before had I seen such a detailed explanation of this war. It was like I was hearing this information for the first time.  

 

By the last episode, I was in tears. 

 

Since I watched it, I haven't been able to stop thinking about the war and what it did to the United States and, of course, to Vietnam. If it affected me in this way, I felt compelled to share it here in hopes some of you may check it out to learn a little more about this time in history. It has certainly made me look at my parents' generation in a new light and has made me take a long, thoughtful look at the Vietnam Veteran stickers and license plates I've seen in traffic recently.

 

We should celebrate Ken Burns and his team for bringing Vietnam and numerous other historical periods to life.

 

Thank you. 

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