The Vietnam War (2017) s01e00 Episode Script

PBS Previews: The Vietnam War

1 It was fought in the north, and in the south, in the air and on the ground.
It was fought in the White House and in the halls of Congress, in America's streets and colleges and living rooms.
Now catch a special sneak peek at the television event of the year as PBS previews "The Vietnam War.
" Corporate funding for the production of "The Vietnam War" was provided by Bank of America with funding from the following And by members of the Better Angels Society The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and by viewers like you.
Thank you.
MAN: When we approached the target, coming down from altitude, it was obvious that they could pick us up on their radar.
I remember my knees shaking, and I was saying, "Holy smokes.
I'm going into war.
This is war.
" I was a bit scared.
Once we went in and they started firing at us [BOOM] The fear went away.
Everything became smooth, deathly quiet in the cockpit.
It was sort of like a symphony in the sense that my plane was just like a ballet in the sky, and I was just performing what I was doing And then I got hit.
Mayday, mayday.
Going down.
KEN BURNS: There was no way we could avoid telling this story.
We'd famously said, after "Civil War," no more wars, and then got sucked in inexorably to the film "The War" on the second world war.
By the time we were finishing that, we knew that we were in some ways obligated to jump into Vietnam.
Ken turned to me and said, "Ok.
I think we could really try to do Vietnam now," and I said, "I'm in.
I've been in since day one.
I've always wanted to do this story, so that's no problem.
" The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud MAN: I still believed very much in this concept of an heroic America, America being a really special country, the best country in the world, the best democracy, all the things that we believe about it, which and I didn't really see anything wrong with that.
I was sure that we were right to be in Vietnam, you know, because it started under Kennedy, and to me, JFK was God.
NOVICK: There's been a lot done about this subject books, documentaries, feature films, novels.
I mean, it's not like no one's ever tried, but it remains this kind of unfinished business in American history.
In order to move on as a country at all, we have to really understand what happened, and we've never done that with Vietnam.
BURNS: So it's time now.
The decades have passed.
We have always felt that in any kind of historical presentation, you've got to have 25 or 30 years' perspective, the kind of triangulation that can take place from that passage of time.
JOHNSON: I just stayed awake last night, thinking about this thing.
The more I think of it, I don't know what in the hell it looks like to me we're getting into another Korea.
It just worries the hell out of me.
I don't see what we can ever hope to get out of there with once we're committed.
I don't think it's worth fighting for, and I don't think we can get out.
It's damned easy to get in a war, but it's gonna be awfully hard to ever extricate yourself.
In many ways, the Vietnam war was our second civil war, ripping the country apart in ways that hadn't taken place since the Civil War, and it's important now to go back and try to understand it.
NOVICK: We have tried to take a look at this from every side.
So within the American experience, there's people who fought in the war, there's people who fought against the war.
There was a tremendous conflict within the United States about the war, and then within Vietnam, there's the winning side, there's the losing side.
They were our enemy and our ally.
There's just so many different perspectives, we tried to bring them all together.
Just hope we can stay alive day to day.
Everybody just wants to go back home and go to school.
That's about it.
REPORTER: Have you lost any friends? Quite a few.
We lost one the other day, good buddy of mine.
[GUNFIRE] Whole thing stinks, really.
[GUNFIRE CONTINUES] BURNS: This film is not an answer, but a set of questions about what happened.
MAN: I am getting a little bit antsy because, first of all, we're losing light.
Second of all, we are now outside of artillery range.
We got to get out of there.
DIFFERENT MAN: We have to move out of here because they coming.
And we don't have time.
BRADY: I went to the Major Nho, his name was and I said, "Major, we have got to get out of here now," and Nho said, "Don't you forget.
I am a major, and you are a lieutenant," turned on his heel, and walked away.
10 minutes later, all hell broke loose.
[EXPLOSION] There he is.
WOMAN: We have extraordinary people looking for stills and archival footage and music and all the elements that make up our series.
They are all really committed to finding material that is not only accurate and relevant, but they all have creative, artistic minds and eyes, and we're really good as a team.
We've pulled in hundreds of hours of footage for this project.
The shooting of 4 students at Kent State is one of the most important scenes in our film.
We came across some scraps of footage that we had never seen before, and we didn't know where it had come from.
We got in touch with some of the people who had been at the Kent State protests and just started asking them, "who do you know who may have been shooting this footage?" And sure enough, one of those people put us in touch with Ray Kline, who happened to be the brother of David Kline, who was a student at Kent State, and these protests were a big deal.
They'd been going on for 4 days, so he had been shooting them.
Sure enough, his brother had a box of old film reels.
There were, you know, maybe 10 reels of 16-millimeter film that hadn't been seen in more than 4 decades.
I think everyone here recognized how important it would be for our viewers to be able to see this incredible moment as it unfolded.
There are literally 25,000 photographs that were pulled into our system.
It's an enormous archivist's job to keep track.
WOMAN: One of our interviewees, his name was Philip Brady, said, "I will tell you my story if you can find this photo that ran in Paris Match.
" They found that the source was AP, and they called AP, and AP said, "Yeah, it ran, but we don't have it anymore, we can't find it.
We're so sorry," and I thought, "Well, can we actually go back into your archive, have us look at the folders because we feel like maybe if we could just look?" And lo and behold, there was a folder called "Advisors," and Phil Brady was a marine advisor.
We looked through, and we found, actually, 3 photographs of Phil Brady, two of which had never been seen before, had never been published, and they're they're in the film.
What we have is kind of two parallel tracks in which research and the collection of material is ongoing, and we have writing in the other track, which is ongoing.
NOVICK: I can't believe I've been lucky enough with Geoff Ward for all these years.
I can't imagine doing a film like this without him.
I don't think it would actually be possible.
We don't want to stop.
We just want to make it better.
Good morning, Mr.
President.
Hi, Jack.
Uh, we need guidance this morning, sir, on Guidance? Uh, is that all you want? - Yes, sir.
- No quotation? - That's right.
- No attribution, - no connection? - Yes, sir.
Give it absolutely none.
- Absolutely none.
- Your press is lying like drunken sailors every day.
BURNS: Two of the most important characters in our film we didn't interview.
They're the two most important presidents to the story of Vietnam Lyndon Baines Johnson and Richard Nixon, and fortunately for us, we have tapes.
WOMAN: Dr.
Kissinger.
KISSINGER: Yeah.
Mr.
President? NIXON: Yeah, Henry.
This was the best speech you've delivered since you've been in office.
Yeah.
I'll tell you one thing.
This was this little speech was a work of art, Henry.
I I know a little something about speechwriting, and if it doesn't if it doesn't work, I don't care.
I mean, right now, if it doesn't work.
Then let me say, though, I'm gonna find out soon, and then I'm gonna turn right so goddamn hard it'll make your head spin.
We'll bomb those bastards right out of the off the earth.
I really mean it.
BURNS: It helps to kind of give us an access on the presidency.
Now we have a chance to put them together and really understand what had happened, and it is a fascinating portrait, so while this film is for the most part bottom-up, it's hugely important portraits of Truman and Eisenhower, but particularly Kennedy and Johnson and Nixon.
MAN: Rolling.
[TIMPANI RUMBLING] NOVICK: Today, we are extremely lucky to be recording music with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road ensemble.
It's just such a privilege to work with these musicians.
[MARIMBA PLAYING] YO-YO MA: Working with Silk Road is such an incredible joy for me because these are people who are like brothers and sisters, and I think what musicians specialize in doing is to actually locate emotions and even the juxtaposition of different types of emotions in one thing, so by doing, like, a "Wounded Soldier," for example, in 6 different ways, there are so many ways you can show that.
[MOURNFUL MUSIC PLAYING] PETER COYOTE: As many as 230,000 teenagers, many of them volunteers, worked to keep the roads open and the traffic moving.
More than half of them were women.
Le Minh Khue, who had left her home in the north with a novel by Ernest Hemingway in her backpack, observed her 17th birthday on the trail.
COYOTE: Thousands died on the trail from starvation and accidents, fevers and snakebite and sheer exhaustion, as well as from the relentless bombing.
BURNS: We brought all our editors with us, and you can see them taking a take in their own mind and pulling out a piece of music that was sort of in there and putting this back in and having it mean something.
MA: Ultimately, the music is gonna come from a variety of places.
Some of them are very well-known tunes, like there's a lullaby that is very much really all known in Vietnam, and other pieces are tunes that we try and show in different ways.
BURNS: Some of the greatest musicians on the planet are in that room, and so when you hear a violin or a viola or you're hearing some Asian instruments, you're hearing them played by practitioners at the highest level.
- Whoo! - Whoo! [EXPLOSION] [INTENSE ELECTRONIC MUSIC PLAYING] NOVICK: I went to the movies, and I saw a film, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," and I found myself sitting there, mostly listening to the music and thinking, "That is exactly what we want for our film on Vietnam.
" It's this constant state of tension.
I stayed to watch the credits, and I saw the music was done by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
[INTENSE ELECTRONIC MUSIC PLAYING] REZNOR: I got a call from my manager, who said, "Ken Burns and Lynn Novick have reached out about a new, massive project they're working on about the Vietnam War and were wondering if you would like to be involved in composing," and I just cut him off and said, "For sure, we want to be involved in that.
" BURNS: Their music is like an extraordinary combination of a kind of cold, metallic, electronic sound mitigated by this incredibly beautiful, melodic sensibility.
[OMINOUS MUSIC PLAYING] MAN: Somewhere around 80% of our casualties came from landmines of all sorts.
In Vietnam for me, just to get up in the morning and look out at the land and think, "In a few minutes, I'll be walking out there, and will my corpse be there or there?" ROSS: It's always nerve-racking handing off a lot of music, but I was amazed at how sophisticated it was, how it goes from music that we might have created to music of the era or stuff that Yo-Yo Ma did.
It was mind-blowing.
BOB DYLAN: One time ago, a crazy dream came to me I dreamt I was walking in World War III MAN: It was the biggest crowd any of us had ever been in in our lives, and when the front of the march got down to the united nations, the back of the march had not yet left Central Park.
That's how many people we were.
NOVICK: The music of this era, the Vietnam War era, is iconic.
We knew we would be including some very important and recognizable music.
This is the best music in American history, you could argue.
We have Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin and Neil Young and Bob Dylan, and I think it was important to the artists and to the record companies that if we're in 1968 in our film, we're not gonna play a piece of music that came out in 1972.
STEPPENWOLF: I like to dream yes, yes, right between the sound machine on a cloud of sound I drift in the night any place it goes is right [EXPLOSION] If you could just bring them down even more to give BURNS, VOICE-OVER: This is one of the most exhilarating and difficult and bittersweet parts of the whole process.
This is mixing.
COYOTE: Saigon's troops would gradually take over responsibility for engaging the enemy.
MAN: This is the first film I've worked on that I actually was a part of in a way 'cause it's my generation.
It makes my whole approach to it a little bit more intense, a little different than usual.
I'm putting reverb on.
- MAN: Ok.
Good.
Yeah.
- BURNS: Good.
NOVICK, VOICE-OVER: I think the series has a very different sound than the other work we've done, and I attribute that mostly to the genius of our editors and sound editors.
Each editor has their own personality, each editor has their own interests in music and in stories that they like to tell, and so each one has brought their own particular genius to their episodes.
There are 4 editors and 10 shows.
The producers just give it some thought.
"Who would be good for the show?" I think sound is important in every story.
It's the other half.
Without that full sound effect feeling, it's just one step shy of being real.
[JET FLYING OVERHEAD] [EXPLOSION] REIDY: We're coming up to Kent State here in episode 8, and people seem to be reacting very strongly to the Kent State scene.
I held it in pretty much really well up until Kent State, and I just lost it, and I actually had to leave the studio and walk around for 10 minutes just to collect myself.
MAN: That just symbolized for me what this war was doing to our culture.
These were kids on both sides, young National Guard boys who had very little training and probably scared, uh, and not well-led and and young men and women on the other side protesting the war, out there for, you know, idealistic reasons.
And look at what happens when we let things get as bad as they got.
ANNOUNCER: Stay tuned.
When we return, we'll follow the filmmakers on location and see how they captured the war through the experiences of those who lived through it when PBS previews "The Vietnam War" continues.
NOVICK: We did take a camera crew to Vietnam twice.
We had to move our whole crew there.
We had to figure out locations and gear and workflow.
NOVICK: We all wanted to represent the Vietnamese perspective, but we weren't sure we'd be able to.
If we didn't find a way to do it, our whole film was gonna not be what we wanted it to be.
There were a couple of occasions where a few people said to us, "You know, we never tell the truth about the war.
The war was so terrible.
" We really had to try to explain that we wanted to hear the real human story of what it was like, and once we could communicate that to our Vietnamese veterans and civilians, people would stop and take a breath and think, and then they would tell us what happened.
BURNS: There are North Vietnamese soldiers and Viet Cong guerrillas and south Vietnamese civilians.
Every day was a big surprise.
Every day was a kind of shake-your-head thing.
You go in always realizing that the first thing you have to do is shed what you thought you knew.
BURNS: We hear from an American participating in a firefight and talk to the people who were doing the firing on the other side at the same moment, and that gives you a heightened sense of what it's really like.
[GUNFIRE, EXPLOSION] All of a sudden, you could see the the tracers coming out of the plantation hit the helicopter and crash.
We were ordered to go down and retrieve the remains the following morning.
[SPEAKING VIETNAMESE] BOTSTEIN: We wanted to get to know the people, we wanted to get to know the place, we wanted to spend time there, we wanted to make people feel comfortable with us, and then to try to bring their story to life on film is a huge challenge and a great responsibility.
NOVICK: We had a wonderful Vietnamese producer Ho Dang Hoa, and he was the one really who helped us identify veterans and find people to talk to.
BOTSTEIN: For us to do interviews the way we like to do them, in a foreign language, it was a challenge to come up with a way that we could feel like we were having a natural conversation.
Mark Roy, our extraordinary soundman, came up with a system where we basically had two interpreters everywhere we went.
Our Vietnamese producer would hear our question and then reinterpret that question for our Vietnamese interviewee.
And then Ben Wilkinson, our extraordinary consulting producer, would be off in a closet or or a bathroom or down a dingy hallway.
NOVICK: He was listening on an earpiece, whispering into a microphone, and we could hear him, so we're basically having like they have at the U.
N.
, simultaneous translation of the interview so we could be responding in real time to what the people were saying.
By the time the second question was asked, they realized we were just having a conversation, and even though we couldn't actually understand each other, we really understood each other.
MAN: What struck me was how beautiful Vietnam was to look at.
There were just these endless acres of these jade-green rice paddies and these lovely villages inside these groves of bamboo and palm trees and way off in the distance these bluish jungle mountains, and it looked like Shangri-La, and I remember seeing this line of Vietnamese women or schoolgirls, I think they were.
They actually looked like angels come to earth or something like that, so it was really quite striking, but a little unsettling because so how could a place like this so beautiful and so enchanting be at war? BOTSTEIN: We are now climbed up a little hill in Lai Chau, shooting some incredible rice paddies.
NOVICK: We don't quite know what's gonna happen.
We have to be open-minded.
We're driving down the road, "Oh, my God.
The sun is setting.
There's a rice paddy," jump out, cross the road, "Get the camera.
Quick, quick, quick!" You know, that happens all the time.
Our cinematographer buddy squires just completely outdid himself to get the footage that we thought we might use.
One idea that we had was to go to the Politburo, where the government of Hanoi met to decide the strategy for the war and see if they would let us film the room and stage it as if they were having a meeting.
COYOTE: At the ninth party plenum that began in Hanoi on November 22, 1963, the day President Kennedy was killed in Dallas, the Politburo had argued over how best to proceed in the war.
North Vietnam's two communist patrons, the Soviet Union and China, were giving them conflicting advice.
NOVICK: We went to the Politburo with a camera crew, and we started asking them to move furniture around.
We brought pictures with us that we had gotten from their archives and our archives that showed what it looked like during the war, the leaders sitting around the table with the maps and the coffee cups and their leather portfolios and ashtrays, and we were sort of asking the curator there "We want it to look like this," and she said, "Wait.
Where'd you get that picture? We don't have that picture," and then they sort of saw how serious we were, and they started pulling things out of the cabinet.
"Oh, we have the real notebooks they used.
Oh, this is Le Duan's eyeglasses.
You know, no one gets to touch that," and so they actually got really interested and involved in our process.
It was really exciting to see so many aspects of what we do all come together on that one day.
MAN: This Vietnamese officer came to me, and he spoke English, and it was the first real English speaker that I had seen, and he had a little reel-to-reel tape recorder, battery-powered tape recorder, and he asked me to make a message to my family to let them know that I was safe, and I could do that if I would make a statement against the war.
And I told him with great bravado that I would rather die than make a statement against my country, and he said to me, uh, "You will find dying is very easy.
Living will be the difficult thing.
Living is the difficult thing.
" BOTSTEIN: Hal Kushner was held in a series of jungle camps.
As we were editing and realizing he was becoming a major character and there was nothing to show for his story.
These camps don't still exist.
There are no pictures of them.
He moved all the time.
We decided that we would try to find some visual way to represent where he was in the jungle.
There are a few still photographs of what we imagine, I think, are the huts that these men were kept in, and we said to Hoa, our producer in Vietnam, "Could you find some people to build some huts?" So Hoa said, "Sure.
I can do that.
" And we turned the corner, and there at the top of this mountain is the hand-built bamboo hut, and it is like where Hal Kushner would have been.
There were moments on this film where we would be somewhere, and we would turn to each other and say, "Imagine what this was like for Hal Kushner.
" It's an extraordinary thing to be in a place and think about historic events that happened in those places and also the people who had to endure it.
I think the thing that I'm most proudest of, and I'm sure Lynn and Sarah are, is that we've been able to do something that operates on many different levels.
NOVICK: Now many people in Vietnam are too young to remember the war, but they still have family members who know someone.
I mean, it's that close, and you just sort of try to understand if you possibly can what this experience meant for them.
It's inspiring to see how resilient people can be because you walk around Vietnam, there is no sign that a war happened there.
It's not as though there's this dark cloud hanging over every part of Vietnam.
It's not like that at all.
You have to look hard to find evidence of the war.
MAN: Soldiers adapt.
You go over there with one mindset, you know, and then you adapt, you adapt to the atrocities of war, you adapt to Killing, dying, you know.
After a while, it doesn't bother you.
Let's just say it doesn't bother you as much.
When I first arrived in Vietnam, there were some there were some interesting things that happened and I questioned some of the marines.
I was made to realize that this is war, and this is what we do, and that stuck in my head.
"This is war.
This is what we do," and after a while, you embrace that.
This is war.
This is what we do.
[INDISTINCT CHATTER] BURNS: Ok.
Everybody here? Good morning, everybody.
The biggest thing I want to say is this is not a finished film.
We are 2 1/2 years from broadcast.
As we said yesterday, this is the earliest we've ever brought folks in to do NOVICK: One of the great joys of a project like this is that we get to work with some of the leading experts on the subject of the Vietnam War, and we pulled together a wide range of historians who have many different perspectives about the war.
I think dropping it in makes great sense, actually, so I may disagree with Ed a little bit BURNS, VOICE-OVER: Listening to those advisors helped us immeasurably, and as we go around to get their comments and we take diligent notes, but you can almost read in their faces where they're at, what their concerns are.
[EXPLOSIONS] MAN: Combat is like crack cocaine.
It's an enormous high, but it has enormous costs.
Any sane person would never do crack.
Combat is like that.
You're scared, you're terrified, you're miserable, but then the fighting starts.
There's a group of us outsiders who are taking a look at the very, very rough first cut of the documentary, and a lot of the group are historians, who can say, "Well, maybe you didn't quite get this right," or whatever.
.
NOVICK: They work with us.
They come to screenings, they give us notes.
We make changes.
They come to more screenings, they give us more notes.
We make more changes.
We listen to them talk to each other and argue.
For me, the focus is maybe too much on the Americans and the North Vietnamese, uh, army.
MAN: I think that's a really important point, and it gets to what I was trying to argue earlier NOVICK: One of our favorite things is to listen to them disagree about things, and then we realize, "Ok.
There's no right answer here.
" There's disagreement.
Vietnam is a particularly unsettled subject about which historians and people who lived through it disagree quite vehemently at times.
O'BRIEN: We hated going there.
When we'd get the word "You're headed for Pinkville," one guy would say to another, "Somebody's gonna die, or somebody's gonna lose a leg.
" We were terrified of the place.
It was littered with landmines.
The villagers were the expressions on their faces, including the children of, say, 6 or 5 years old, had a mixture of hostility and terror.
I thought I knew the history of Vietnam as well as anyone in the country, and I've found out otherwise in the last 3 days.
MAN IN FILM: "You want to know what it's like? Boom! There it is.
I'll give it to you right now.
You want to feel it?" O'BRIEN, VOICE-OVER: Partly, it's the new material that I'm not familiar with that some of the historians in the room are bringing to our analysis.
NOVICK: We interviewed nearly 100 people for this project.
The witnesses who appear onscreen are telling you their stories.
BURNS: This ought to be a bottom-up story so that if you weren't in the war and that means combat or you weren't waiting for a loved one to come back from that war, you're not really in our film.
You've got to have been sort of in the thick of it.
MARLANTES: I was there, and so even though it's odd.
I mean, my view of the Vietnam War is sort of from a grunt's-eye view, which is pretty localized, but on the other hand, I can add things that a historian can't.
I mean, it's like, "Well, the hole in the tank couldn't have been made by a grenade.
It had to be an RPG," and so technical things like that, which documentary filmmakers, I'm sure, are plagued by military nuts out there that are gonna nail them for getting something wrong, so I'm hoping I can help avoid a few of those things.
O'BRIEN: Watching it so far has been a bit like going into a dream that is a familiar dream, one I've had before.
It's a revisiting of my history as a veteran of Vietnam.
It's a revisiting of an era, and the era is the era of my youth.
BURNS: We just felt we had to put our arms around as much of this war as we could, to take it back to the very beginning and bring it up right to today and say, "Here we are.
What are we gonna do with this information? How can we go forward as a people?" And I think, as divided as we are, we are yearning just below that surface to be reconnected again.
[EXPLOSIONS] [FROGS CROAKING, INSECTS CHIRPING] [PHIL OCHS' "I AIN' MARCHING ANYMORE" PLAYING] Oh, I marched to the battle of New Orleans COYOTE: Two weeks after the marines landed at Da Nang, members of the University of Michigan Faculty organized a night-long discussion between professors and some 3,000 students about the escalation of the war.
I grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Ann Arbor, Michigan, in March of 1965 had one of the first teach-ins about the war and it began in the anthropology department, and my father was in the anthropology department, and so our family was being pulled in a lot of directions, just as my country was.
NOVICK: I was born in 1962.
As I was growing up, it was sort of in the background.
This big, important, and not good thing was happening, and I could sense that all the adults were concerned, talking about it, but I really didn't understand what was going on.
And as I got older, I began to sort of ask myself what is this thing that was happening, sort of overshadowing my whole childhood basically? So we had a very different idea of patriotism, so we began an era in which two groups of Americans, both thinking that they were acting patriotically, went to war with each other.
Over 200,000 communist sympathizers in that park this morning tried to burn this flag, but they didn't succeed.
I think this film will help a lot.
It does show a very balanced view.
It shows the peace protestors had a very legitimate role in that whole historical drama, and that very brave 18-year-olds went over to Vietnam and performed admirably and that they have an important part in it.
You know, nothing is as simple as you'd like to think it is when you're 19, and this is a very mature documentary that's looking at a lot of shades of gray, and it's just the way the world is.
WOMAN: My mother and father were convinced that when Ho Chi Minh and his government arrived in Hanoi, my father would be the first one to be killed, and all of us would be persecuted And I remember the day we left.
I looked around, and I thought, "I'll never come back here again.
" It was extremely traumatic.
It was Like the ground was suddenly cut from under you.
BURNS: We've spent a decade trying to put our arms around a hugely complicated and controversial event in American history.
We didn't have an agenda, we didn't have an ax to grind.
We had a story that we wanted to tell.
We think we're making this film at the perfect time because the people who lived through it are very much alive, very much aware of what they went through, and at an age where they want to talk about it.
We hope that we might be some agency of healing for the soldiers who lived through it to take whatever slight burden off the already immense burden they still carry.
I think we have tried to make a film that everyone will be interested in watching, whether you're 18 or 80, whether you're a man or a woman, whether your politics are left or right.
I think we want the film to inspire a new conversation about the war, but also, the film is asking a lot of questions, and we don't pretend to answer them.
We just want to throw those questions out for our country to think about again.
WOMAN: I've been to the wall, um, more than once.
When I look back at the war and, you know, think of the horrible things, you know, we said to, you know, vets who were returning, you know, calling them baby killers and worse, I've, you know I I feel very sad about that.
Um, I can only say that, you know, we were kids, too, you know, just like they were.
BURNS: Wars are so extraordinarily revealing, obviously, of the worst of humanity, but as it turns out, also the best of humanity.
BURNS: As you dig deeper, as you go in and reach into the lives of the people we spoke to, you you can understand new dimensions of courage and new dimensions of heroism, and it may not take place always, in the case of this war, on the battlefield.
BURNS: This is, without a doubt, the most ambitious project that we have ever undertaken, and I would probably suggest that this may be one of the biggest undertakings of our network, but the most important thing with regard to PBS is that this is the only place it could have been done.
This was the only network on earth that would have provided the bandwidth to permit us to go in and study it as we have over the last decade and come to terms with a very complicated portrait.
O'BRIEN: I fear that there's a kind of national amnesia about Vietnam, that we've erased the horror of the kinds of mistakes that were made.
I think this film, at this point in history, might be a terrific antidote to that.
MAN: To see these kids who had the least to gain, there wasn't anything to look forward to; they weren't gonna be rewarded for their service in Vietnam, and yet their infinite patience, their loyalty to each other, their courage under fire was just phenomenal, and you would ask yourself, "How does America produce young men like this?" [WOMAN HUMMING, SLIDE GUITAR PLAYING]