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tv   1968 - America in Turmoil Vietnam War at Home  CSPAN  August 13, 2018 8:03am-9:37am EDT

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this is the president, march 23 of '68. >> to find some alternative to turn some of this thing around. we will ease up just on vietnam.
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we've got to turn it around. . this it away from us. we've got to. way iople here by the don't know what you would have found for the parallel thing very long. there's a lot of them. that's right. we've got to have something. we haven't got that on them yet. we have proved that we've got a long ride. biting at you. that ingrained in the
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culture. the young men are heroes, try to do what they thought was the right thing to read the young people on and new york.
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what's interesting is how little the networks, stan parker and his buddies, how little that seemed to have penetrated the conscious that it was going on. really comhost: the occupation.
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here's a look. >> community support. peace and money. they're also getting opposition from right-wing students. but every now and then, they would try to keep the record player out. of course they're not going to say anything.
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. the previous world war two generation, i think it is time to ask how the war made them
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feel. different question. there's a lot of unfinished business. if you imagine the conversations that never happened in america because all of that energy has been spent repressing the experience of vietnam. as tim anderson told me, i don't remember a bit of that whole year and it was the most important year of my life. we cannot go into history without putting a period on the end of the sentence of what happened to us in the.
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.. by men. women played a huge part but did not have leadership roles. the woman who was at the columbia protest wrote about in spoke about how women, we were there to help the guys do what they were doing and they were not really given full equal role in everything. woke on the issue of women to the degree they should have been. to some degree the antiwar movement incorporated aspects of the civil rights movement for some leaders. it was not fully integrated either.
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there's imperfect aspects of it for sure. back, the a step idealism to protest inspired women. inspired people in the
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. only
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fighting to stay alive to the next moment and for your buddy. if you're watching out for each other. what seems to be in the sense of the vietnam veterans experience is a sense of
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so all of a sudden the streets are filled with these kids who don't look like college kids are supposed to look in the cops view. some of them were committing vandalism and yelling obscenities. and i think a lot of policemen saw that as abusing the privileges they had and scorning them. >> they are provoking us but we do not want to confront them. move back.
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>> lynn novick, what can you tell us about the perspective of the police and the national guard during this period? >> yeah. well, you know, i think we talk about this a lot today, that we would like our officers of the law to be trained in something we call de-escalation, so if you're faced with a difficult situation, how do you get people to calm down and we saw the exact opposite happen in chicago, and at kent state even more tragically, where these young men wearing uniforms trying to keep order were not really given the right training, i would say, of how to manage a very difficult situation. there is an enormous amount of class resentment going on here which is something we feel very much today, that they see these young kids protesting. it is a privilege. and they feel they are being unpatriotic and they should just keep quiet and serve their country.
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i'm generalizing vastly because i'm quite sure that there were people who were in the police force or national guard who may not have held those views. but they were in a very tough spot. and what is important to take away from the chaos at chicago is that after the fact, there was an investigation. and it was basically termed a police riot. so the students who were protesting were certainly being provocative. but the police and the national guard made the situation much worse unfortunately and television cameras captured it. and we interviewed a veteran who was very much in favor of the war when he went to vietnam, he happened to be on r & r when this happened, he was in australia watching on tv, and he saw this chaos unfolding of people in uniform beating up protesters with clubs and hauling them off. and he thought for a second it was something to do with czechoslovakia. he said it felt like somebody
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like his dad beating up him. he said wait a minute, it was america. at that moment he said he became politicized. so it did have a seismic effect, the coverage of the protests and chaos in chicago. >> let's go to bill in pennsylvania. bill, you're on the air. >> caller: hello. i hope to tell my experience very concisely and then make a comment. in 1968, i graduated from high school. people from that time remember the lottery system that determined whether you would get drafted or not. my lottery number was 6, which meant that there was very little chance that i would not get drafted. i tried to be a conscientious objector, i wrote a letter to the draft board, i said that basically i could not ever especially someone that i didn't know. i never really got an answer to
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that letter, except they acknowledged they received it. after a couple of years, i was in college, i developed a very severe mental illness. and that happened, the draft board was no longer interested in me and they sent me a letter, i was classified as 4-f. i since recovered from that illness, i'm glad to say. i participated in the anti-war demonstrations in washington in 1970 and '71. the paper said there were over a million people there. i can remember seeing jane fonda and bob haden, some of the big protest names. some of those people were a bit too radical for me, but we were all opposed to the war. the very chilling moment was may
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4, 1970, when four students were killed at kent state university. i remember that day so clearly, it seemed like this country was at war with itself. the main comment i wanted to make was that when the veterans returned to this country, it's a disgrace how they were treated. in some cases they were spit on at the airports. i think these things happened because of what people saw of the war on tv. but the veterans who went, they did what they believed in, they thought they were doing the right thing. they followed orders. and what happened in the war was never their fault, it was the fault of the politicians. like nixon, johnson, and mcnamara. >> bill, thank you for sharing your situation and your observation. doug, you've written a lot about the homecoming experience. what did you take from his
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comments there? >> well, number one, he seems to have a great deal of empathy, for him to quote the other side, which is not really the other side. a couple of people i interviewed, a gentleman named stan parker, was sitting -- it is true. he was sitting in his airline seat and the person next to him rang the bell and said i'd like to be moved. the flight attendant says, i know, we tried to find a seat where you didn't have to sit next to him. he sadz id, i'm sitting here, in hear you. and he said he looked in the window to see if he looked like a killer? and they certainly were coming home to a changed america. my friend tim came home, he was hitchhiking, a family took him out for dinner, then dropped him off at his parents' door. but they were certainly coming home to a changed america. >> lynn, did you a want to add to that?
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>> i just wanted to jump in about that because it is such a critical point about how veterans felt they were received and also a lot of retrospective looking back. as doug said, no one story fits everyone's experience, but i think, you know, there may not have been nearly as much spitting, literal spitting as we might think, but there was a sense that they came home and no one thanked them, because we didn't win the war. or not no one, but people didn't -- it's that unfinished business aspect of the war. so world war ii veterans came home to victory parades because everyone was over there until the war was over. and you came home and country was celebrating. here people came home on their own, one by one, to a country so bitterly divided about what they had just done. and then there was the conflagration of not only who was responsible, but this sort of specter of war crimes and
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whether soldiers had committed them and focusing on individual soldiers rather than the people who sent them over there and set up the whole war machinery. and there's a lot as doug has been saying for us to talk about what actually happened and who was really responsible, and the soldiers, or veterans were the next best thing for the public. you can't go and spit on robert mcnamara, or yell at lbj, but here's a soldier in uniform and so they became sort of -- not literally targets but psychically targets. and that was very wrong. i think we are beginning to acknowledge that and as a country move forward. it's very, very important. >> let's get that call from nancy in franklin, north carolina. thank you for waiting. >> caller: thank you, very much, ms. novick, you won my heart, you brought up something very important to me. it brings almost tears to my eyes. growing up, request
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i'm one of the original baby boomers of that era growing up watching the war. the first war that was ever televised on television. we'd watch it every evening with walter cronkite, mostly, narrating the war, being embedded there many times. my father was a world war ii veteran who i love more than life itself. he was all pro-vietnam, et cetera, in the very beginning. but as the war kept going and escalating for four, five years, and our own senator, allan cranston said enough is enough, and he came home and said, we got to pull out now. i graduated in '67, my father after listening to walter cronkite saying this war was beyond belief, allan cranston our senator said we have got to pull out now. i graduated in '67 among well over 700 students.
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only a few, handful, stood up at that ceremony. over 700 parents, mind you, parents sitting out there, grandparents, from world war ii, korea, possibly world war i, great grandparents, et cetera, were shocked when none of us stood up for the flag salute or the national anthem. that was our protest. >> comments of nancy there. lynn novick, want to respond? >> yeah, you know, it's painful for nancy and her generation to feel that they were trying to get a message across to their parents and grandparents and they weren't ready to hear it. as she said, her father did come around. and as the caller earlier said, he was in the service and he later realized the war was a mistake. so the shift did happen over time, but in that moment, it must have been extremely difficult and very brave to
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look at the people you respect and say, you know what? you're not making the right decisions for us. we spoke in our film to a veteran named tom valele who was very enthusiastic about joining the marines, becoming a hero and fighting for his country. he had a complete transformation while he was in vietnam. he ended up joining vietnam veterans against the war and throwing away his medals. he said he wanted to send a message to the people in the administration saying i don't think you people know very much about what you are doing. i think it was very brave to question a policy that at that time didn't make sense. >> if the look at the 1964 gulf of tonkin resolution and colin powell's speech in 2003 to the u.n. about uranium in iraq, they're both really spurious reasons to go in to a country and fight a war. but yet, 18 years on now from afghanistan, those veterans are treated very differently.
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and i think it again has to do with the way that afghanistan in '01 was framed for us, and iraq, obviously is another question entirely. but, i don't know, i just -- when i compare those two political moments, and then the outcome years later from each of them, it's just tragic the way the vietnam veteran was treated in the aftermath of an equally a acti active chicanery. >> we have less than a half hour left of our guest lynn novick, a documentary filmmaker. and doug stanton is here, author of several books, including "the odyssey of ecco company," which we've been talking a bit about. and we have sandra from addelboro, massachusetts. good morning. >> caller: good morning. i had three family members sent.
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they went over. they joined up. one was my husband, two of my brothers and my two brothers ended up going to vietnam direct and one was shipped to germany, the other stayed in vietnam. my husband was the latter part of the war. anyway, to make a long story short, my brother who went to vietnam ended up protecting the lumberyards at denang valley, or wherever it was when they had the big offense. and he later on had to be sent out because he had tumors, he didn't quite make the whole offensive and he wondered where his compradres are to this day, he comes over and checks on us at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. the man has never left vietnam
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actually. my husband was in -- over in bay of pigs. when he came home to our family, we went to church. and while in church, we became the focus of -- my husband was dressed in his uniform, and they started having like a thing about soldiers and stuff like that. my husband couldn't have told me that it was about where he had gone through, what he had gone through and everything else. it was terrible. and i never seen such things in my life. i was wondering, was the war about the lumberyards? because i was told that on the base up here in brockton. a man took us on tour of the helicopters and he said that they were shot up because of
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protecting the lumberyards over in vietnam. and he knew it because he drove part of it himself. he had a son that was in the service too. >> sandra, thank you for calling. let's hear from doug stanton. >> yes, it was about that and many things. no, i don't think it was just about the lumberyards. and in denang, if i understood it correct. >> nathan in old school, connecticut. good morning to you. >> caller: good morning. thank you, brian lamb, for c-span and thanks to all the moderators on "washington journal" who really do a fabulous job. the calls are wonderful. i loved nancy. and just as she said that the filmmaker won her heart. bill from pennsylvania won my heart.
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his story was just wonderful to hear. he was punished the same way that mohammed ali was punished and that's why mohammed ali is a hero to my generation. i think the war protesters were significant to ending the war because they drove linden johnson out of office. he knew he wasn't going to be re-elected. so he withdrew from the possibility of the nomination and i think that was because the protesters put so much pressure on him. now my question for mr. stanton, who i think is a hero too. when robert mcnamara wrote his book about 15 years ago, in which he said that they all knew that it was an unwinnable,
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untenable tragedy. how did you -- how did that make you feel? did that vindicate your feelings of doubt as a soldier or do you think he should have taken it to his grave? >> lynn novick, i thought i saw you nodding your head for a second. did you want to respond? >> oh, i mean, i think a number of soldiers that we spoke with, in particular, carl marlantis who was a marine, who gave up a rhodes scholarship to go to vietnam and fight, to lead a platoon in '68. he was recalling what is revealed in "the pentagon papers," which is mcnamara's memo to johnson in '65 saying the chances of victory are no better than 1 in 3. we're probably not going to win but recommending escalation and johnson going along with it. subsequent revelations from
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mcnamara that they knew the war was not winnable, that it couldn't be won, and they just escalated anyway. he said i can make munderstand people make mistakes with pure intentions. but when you are lying to protect your own ego, that's what he said. carl and many other soldiers went over to vietnam and did their duty and fought and killed and had their friends die for leaders who lied. he said that makes him mad. i have to say, that's why i was nodding. i was just remembering carl and knowing what we know now, if they had been honest with the american public from the very beginning, i think we'd be having a very, very different conversation. >> mark in grand rapids, michigan. hey there. >> caller: how are you? >> doing well, sir. go ahead, please. >> caller: i would just like to thank mr. burns and ms. novick
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for one of the most important documentary i've ever seen. i am from a northeastern family who get involved in anti-vietnam war and civil rights protests very early on. i was born in 1960, so these people were heroes of mine as i grew up. i guess my question to both mr. stanton and ms. novick, in 2018, where is the civil disobedience and where is the outrage over the war in iraq and the war in afghanistan that is going on now much longer than the vietnam conflict. >> thank you for calling, mark. doug stanton, why don't you take that one? >> it's true. in 2010, the first interview i did with a reporter was, are we still in afghanistan? 18 years in afghanistan. i have three nephews and a lot of family members who are in the service now, or have been, but
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i'm an anomaly among my writer friends. where are the protests? where are the people fighting this war? it -- you know, we could debate whether or not we should bring the draft or public service back. but if we did either one of those and somehow tied it to our foreign policy, we would see immediate more public engagement with this very issue that he raises. >> i want to play a trailer for the documentary, "hit and stay." it's about the story of a group called the kaytonsville nine. >> i believe these were the draft resist teres who went into the selective service office? is that the story? tried to destroy draft records. kaytonsville, maryland. basically i think they poured blood or they poured blood on draft records or draft files so that the selective service wouldn't be able to do its job. they were arrested and tried.
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it is a very famous trial about civil disobedience and how far that can go. i believe it was the barrigan brothers who actually led this protest. that speaks to sort of, as we said earlier, the sense of there's civil disobedience, there's non-violent protests, and there's many different forms that can take. and there was a sense of building frustration in the anti-war movement that just showing up in a big rally, you could do that, you can get a lot of people to come but it wouldn't move the dial on the policy. so there were different factions that had different ideas about how to really shake things up. and many people of conscious thought the war was so wrong. and we talk about the 58,000 americans who died, and every name on the wall as doug said was a tragedy and it is important to go there. but there were 3 million
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vietnamese that were killed. we forget our country's role in the deaths of millions of people. certainly the vietnamese played a part. many of the people who died were killed by north vietnamese or vietcong, but american military did a lot of the killing. and that was at the root of the need to stop the war. but also to stop our country and our policy from killing vietnamese people who hadn't done anything to us. >> more of your calls in a moment. but here's the trailer for that new documentary that's called "hit and stay." it runs about two minutes. >> i believe we are in such times as making it increasingly impossible for christians to obey the law of the land and to remain true to christ. >> but at the height of the vietnam war, nine catholics entered this white frame building in kaytonsville, maryland. it was a draft board. some of them catholic priests
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seized selective service files that brought those files out of this parking lot, then burned them with the help of home-made napalm. >> they stood around and they were talking amongst themselves and they were praying and waiting for the feds to show up. it was a big news story. >> we were all about publicity. we knew this was drama. this was politics. this is theater. >> i think the catonsville 9 opened up the options. >> this was the prototype of some series of actions. >> there were over 100 draft board actions in this country. >> we now know that those draft boards never drafted again. >> that was my little claim to fame, to be the first nun in the united states to commit a federal felony. >> we didn't try to escape, we waited for arrests, we used the trial as an educational medium. >> we put the vietnam war on trial.
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and then we also put the fbi on trial. >> i do not sympathize with the burning of draft cards. i think that's very un-american. >> we were these very threatening people. i remember one comment of the prosecutor. "these people are a greater threat to the security of this nation than is organized crime." he said that in open court. >> i think that the jury for the most part, every one of them was opposed to the war by the time we finished the trial. >> we have chosen to be powerless criminals in a time of criminal power. we have chosen to be branded as peace criminals by war criminals. >> and i should clarify, that was a trailer for the 2013 documentary of "hit and stay, a history of faith and resistance." we want to hear from doug stanton on what you just saw and reflections on the catonsville nine. >> it's hard to imagine how we
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can get civic engagement at that level today to talk about our own policy. i'm not saying that that actually would be the path we want to go forward. but it is really interesting because that is the bitter fruit of so many families sending their young men and women off to vietnam. and while that's -- you know, this is so interesting, because we have so many people calling in and i know we're going to get to those calls, but if we were to do this about korea or even afghanistan or iraq, what we're hearing in these calls is a sense of that want to be heard. people are calling just to simply say this is what happened to me in vietnam and that is a different kind of feeling in this show than we see elsewhere. and i'm glad to hear from them, because we talk so much about the protests, but i really think until we get to what it just felt like for these guys. it's my contention, i know it's lynn's too, that this is perhaps
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an unhealthy blister on the american soul that needs to be lanced. >> let's hear from more callers, jeff, toring te intorington, co thanks for waiting. hi, jeff. >> caller: yes, good morning. >> go ahead, please. >> caller: i spent two tours of duty in vietnam. i was drafted and i shouldn't have been drafted. i was an only son and vision -- they didn't care. they still drafted me.-- they d. they still drafted me.they didn. they still drafted me. all the friends that i was in vietnam with, i was in mobile construction battalion 121 and mcd-40. i was a navy person and all of them are dead and i'm still alive. i'm still having problems to this day with my situation. >> what kind of problems? >> for example, the other day i
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was at my town hall and an individual told me i wasn't honorably discharged. right on my de-214 it said "h "honorab "honorable," but the guy still gave me a hard time. i have been exposed to agent orange. i have prostate cancer. but they don't care, nobody cares. >> the story of jeff there. let's hear the story of alvin, then we'll get back to our guest. peoria, arizona. >> caller: yes. first of all i want to thank ken burns. he's doing a fantastic job, not just in vietnam but i followed him with the civil war, black baseball, et cetera, et cetera. but if had my experience as a 21-year-old in 1964, i enlisted in the u.s. army, basically believing that i would be sent to vietnam.
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fate intervened and i was sent to korea instead of vietnam. every other class was sent to vietnam and then the class in between was sent someplace else and i served in the 7th infantry division in korea. but i did follow vietnam very closely and i was young, naive and wanted to serve my country. and that's why i enlisted. but at any rate, i made e-5 fairly quickly because i was in great shape, exercised, the whole nine yards, so when i got out, i went to college in 1967. and at that time, i was really following vietnam and i was in my sophomore year when the tet offensive occurred. so what i did is, i started researching how we got into vietnam and our involvement and
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i think the real untold story of vietnam is the beginning of our involvement in vietnam, which dated back to 1942, and i think that's the real untold story. and if people want to understand vietnam, they have to understand the cause and effect of how we got into vietnam. >> alvin, thank you for calling. lyn novick, your response to alvin? >> yes, i completely agree. in our film, which is "10 parts, 18 hours," ken burn and i decided to go back to actually the 19th century. but we quickly get to world war ii. we did get involved in vietnam because we were trying to fight a common enemy, which was the japanese. we allied ourselves with ho chi minh and his band of guerrillas. we actually helped train them.
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and the communists were our enemy. and everything kind of flowed from there. but the initial involvement had to do with the dynamics of the second world war. and one tragedy of the many tragedies of the vietnam war, there were several things that was happening in the world after the second world war. which we understand is the effect of decolonization. the french, the belgians, they were no longer able to have colonies in the free world and those colonies were going to demand self-determination and there was a strong nationalist current and the russians and the chinese supported these movements, and we therefore opposed them. and that became sort of a irreckon silable conflict that got us into the vietnam war. mcnamara said that vietnam has a momentum of its own and it has
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to be stopped. and it's true, once you start something, it is a lot harder to stop. the reasons why we got in are important, but i think equally important, the reasons why we stayed in. and the succession of american leaders who kept it going even though it was really built on a house of cards. >> i wanted your reflections on the caller prior. said poorly treated not only then, when he came back, but up to present day. >> he said nobody cared. he goes back to the idea of nobody's watching. nobody is in charge. nobody is the author of this moment. and what one of the things i did and two people i wrote about went back to vietnam. back to the beginning of where this all happened and that provided some sense of reconciliation with their younger selves.
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and the other caller mentioned, you know, when you travel the streets, this is the american war, of course. in vietnam, it's not called the vietnam war. >> we have george on the phone. what would you like to say or ask? >> caller: thank you. i would like them to comment on tet offensive and walter cronkite. tet offensive was a military victory. they threw everything at us, and they got clobbered. wasn't reported that way, but that's what happened. walter cronkite gets on tv and, well meaning, says what he said, which was 180 degrees opposite to what happened. journalists are prognosticating about things that perhaps they don't know everything about. could you just comment on that,
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please? >> thank you. let's ask lyn to take that one. >> i think the caller is reflecting a very common understanding of -- this is -- a lot of people feel the way that you feel. and i think it is important to kind of take a step -- telescope out from that in that, yes, one could argue that the tet offensive was a military defeat for the north vietnamese and north vietcong because they lost so many people. tens of thousands of their soldiers were killed. on the surface that could look like a decisive turning point of the war for them. what we have to keep in mind and what our leaders understood, even though they weren't telling the american people at the time or really ever is that north vietnam has a very healthy birth rate. they have no interest in stopping fighting. they might go back, lick their wounds for a year, two, three, four, however long it takes to build, but they will be back.
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they're not going to walk away. it ultimately became a question of, how long is this war going to go on? even though we killed a lot of soldiers and combatants in the tet offensive, it wasn't decisive for them. so understanding where they were coming from, that's why the wise men, the inner circle of advisors that johnson had came to him and said, you have to get out. so walter cronkite didn't know any of that. what he was really looking at was, this is unsustainable for the american people. also, what is at stake? you know, what are we fighting for? what is the cause? what it the risk to our country if we don't win the war? also the cost problem. do we throw more young men into this fight to justify the lives of those who have already been lost? so there is a lot going on below the surface. i think walter cronkite becomes
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the lightning rod in a way that we have to take a little bit longer, wider view to appreciate the context. >> doug stanton, i want to ask you about congress, as well. we'll show a clip from march 8th, 1968. a white house phone call between president johnson and the secretary of state dean rusk about a meeting with members of the senate foreign relations committee. and the majority leader is talking about the state of the war in vietnam. >> we had a three hour meeting the other night. mansfield, as usual, spaghetti, had nothing to say. he's just against the war, that i've done everything i can to get peace, said i was the greatest man in the world. just nothing. just spaghetti. fulbright says i've got to get us out of vietnam. that's my purpose. i was lied to, misled. talking guff. any time you contract based on
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fraud and misrepresentation, there's no contract at all. and that congress does have some responsibility and i want it exercised. i want to be consulted. i said you've been consulted, we've been here three hours. you just play president for a minute, tell me what you would like for me to do, what is it you recommend? he recommends negotiation. i said i do, too. so how do we get going? he can't get anywhere. he just goes off then on a tangent and talks about how terrible the war is how it is tearing our society to pieces, how it is dividing us here. i said i agree to all of that. >> doug standton, what was the role of congress during this period in trying to contain the war and reacting to the protest movements? just speak about congress for a moment. >> i think that the clip showed is that they're starting to take a very active role.
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they're coming forward. this is march of '68. the previous caller said cronkite had been 180 degrees off from the tactical achievement of the tet. what i want to point out, it goes to this johnson clip, is that the tet offensive as an event was 180 degrees off what westmoreland had been saying in the summer of '67, which is we're close to the light at the end of the tunnel. it's not as if cronkite is coming out of the blue with this summation he had. and then, of course, you have johnson here just kind of being twirled on the wheel of indecision between the politicians and congress who are feeling this blow-back from the country and watch the tet unfold in color on their tv screens. >> michael in san bernardino, california, good morning to you. >> caller: good morning. i want to say that -- make this
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quick. my father was with patton in the 3rd army so i felt it was my duty to go to vietnam. when i got there, i was with -- of the highest ranking officers died that month. then president nixon visited us in '69. and then i got out and i was walking through international airport on may 4th, 1970, and i really felt like i was nothing, because they looked at me because everybody was looking at kent state. but now it's turned around. i had great experience with the va. of the persian people. of persian gulf soldiers said
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don't celebrate without us. don't celebrate without the vietnam vet and i was welcomed home in 2010. >> thank you, michael. to roger in pennsylvania and then back to our guests. hi, roger. >> caller: hi. the vietnam war documentary was excellent, by the way. i turned 18 in 1972. my lottery number was 217, and i was 1a. i remember a little differently. i went to college with a lot of vietnam vets and i had a business partner that was a medic in vietnam. and i have to disagree. i think they were all -- everybody wanted to hear their stories. people -- i don't ever remember anybody talking down to them. everybody seemed to hold them in a high esteem. we got a lot of higher end work in north jersey because my friend was a vietnam vet and the doctors and stuff wanted to hire him and hear his stories,
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that he was a vietnam vet. my father was a platoon sergeant in the philippines, i mean, the pacific theater in world war ii. came home and never talked about the war. he went through hell. kept his mouth shut. died -- worked until the day he died at 83 and never asked the government for anything. he never got the g.i. bill. never got medicare. and i think the vietnam vets and the vets should shut up, do their job, and go to work. just like my father did. the greatest generation. >> anything from the last couple of callers you want to respond to? >> wow, well, yeah i think what we can see already there's many versions. we all have our narratives and they don't always line up. it's a big country and there's a lot of variety of experience. so i think on the one hand, it's absolutely true that sometimes, especially if soldiers came home around '69 or '70 it was a painful and difficult time and they were sort of targeted as
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the closest thing you could find to what was happening to criticize. but then there are also plenty of soldiers, veterans who just came home and went about their lives. one of the great legacies of the vietnam generation, they didn't keep quiet, in a way. so, you know, they demanded better care from the va. they complained or, you know, called attention to what became known as post-traumatic stress disorder. at first it was called post vietnam syndrome. there was a sense if you were through combat, something might have happened to you physically and psychologically and it didn't feel right. the vietnam veterans kind of held our government accountable to some degree. we have to take care of soldiers when they come home. it's a big uphill climb. but that's an important legacy. and you know what has been moving is to see we've had experiences of seeing the generation of soldiers that fought in the most recent
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and ongoing wars being grateful not vietnam generation for opening the way for them to come home to a different kind of welcome. and then wanting to pull the vietnam veterans into that in parades and various welcome home ceremonies. so there's kind of an intergenerational warrior community that is really powerful. >> let's get to ronald in ferndale, michigan. hi, ronald. >> caller: hi. i was in vietnam in '69. in the usmc. the reason i'm calling is the war crimes that happened in world war ii -- i mean vietnam. sorry. i'm very nervous. i'm just -- one was with lyn. she slild opped out a word call
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illusion. i think that's the proper word. the vietnam war was an illusion we should never have been there. if you have any history of vietnam, ho chi minh, since world war i, has tried its best to lead his country. he went to china for help and the chinese didn't like him because he -- he kept his country -- their priorities was party, country, and et cetera. his was country, party, et. cetera. and they didn't like that. so he went back to vietnam and started his -- one last thing is please -- the vietnam vets. please tell your story to your family. it's a lost history, and the other thing is going to do this is to write the vietnam embassy
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in washington and apologize to them for the war. >> thank you, ronald. tell the story, doug. something you touched on earlier. >> the caller before that said he came home and the guys wanted to hear his stories about being in vietnam, which is all the difference when you have an audience whose going to be listening. so i would urge him to say today to the vietnam veterans not to say to them to shut up, but to listen to their story and move on. we don't have to do anything with these stories. i think the most biggest lesson i learned is we have to acknowledge them. we can't fix the pain but we can listen and become that audience. lyn, final thought? >> oh, wow. >> for ken burns and myself and for our colleagues who worked on this film, we had the privilege of spending ten years listening to people tell us their stories, both in america and in vietnam. one of the things that was profound for me was i made four trips to vietnam over the course of the project and talking to veterans and civilians there.
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there's a lot of unfinished business in vietnam, as well. their country is still unreconciled about what happened during the war and who is responsible and whether it was worth the cost. even though on the winning side they have the private victory. it's still enormously painful and difficult subject. and the impulse to listen to each other and be present and hear each other's stories. the vietnamese have seen our film, it has been translated into veet that knees. it is streaming there and millions of people have streamed it. it's opening up a kind of conversation they haven't had, as well. i think that speaks to this sort of fundamental human need to know ourselves and to know each other before we can really go anywhere. and my life has been changed by the privilege of hearing so many stories of heroism and sacrifice on all sides. people who believed in what they were doing. and some people who are carrying an enormous amount of baggage about just what happened. so i agree completely with doug, the more we can share our
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stories and listen to each other, the better we'll be. >> pbs's "the vietnam war." thank you for joining us. >> great conversation. >> thanks to doug stanton, author of "the odyssey of echo company." you're watching or c-span series, 1968, american turmoil. it is part of our focus on reaction in the u.s. to the vietnam war in 1968. coming up, the impact of artists at the 1968 democratic national convention in chicago. then the citizen protest movement in 1968. and similarities to what's happening now. this is some of american history tv programming normally seen only on the weekends here on c-span3. we are taking the opportunity while congress is on break to show you what we offer. american history tv starts saturday mornings at 8:00 eastern and runs through monday morning at 8:00.
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these programs are from our c-span series "1968 -- america in turmoil." you can listen to the programs as a podcast on spotify or watch any time at on our 1968 page. if you missed any of today's program, we'll show them again tonight at 8:00 eastern. our nine-part series wraps up tomorrow with a look at the cold war in 1968 and how events in vietnam and reaction to the war at home impacted u.s. policy on the cold war. wednesday, american history tv continues with the development of the automotive industry in the u.s. and how cars changed american life. thursday, martin luther king jr. we'll show you the 50th anniversary commemoration from march. and friday, the world war i centennial ceremony and a look at various aspects of the war from discussions at u.s. army heritage days.
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next weekend during our regularly scheduled american history tv programming, we'll take a look at the murder of one of boston's richest men while he was visiting harvard university in 1849. english professor paul collins specializes in 19th century crimes and he talks about his latest book, "blood and ivy -- the 1949 murder that scandalized harvard." saturday night at 8:00 eastern during lectures in history, a class by rutgers university professor jefferson decker on the history of the environmental movement and laws an litigation regarding natural resources. sunday night at 8:00 from our weekly look at the presidency, harry truman's russia policy which became known as "the cold war" after he outlined his plan to contain communism during an address to congress in 1947. this year marks the 50th anniversary of the chicago democratic convention.


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