So Far, A Balanced Documentary



I was among the last of the draftees to be inducted during Vietnam.

September, 1972, which was the 2nd to last group to be drafted. December was the last group.

I can remember getting up at 04:00 with my father taking taking me to the pickup point for the bus to take us to the induction center in Oakland.   Those of us going had to wade though 100s of protesters all chanting that we didn’t have to go.

But we went.

In a bit of bureaucratic irony the Army ended up sending me to Germany, but for the intervening 45 years (this month) I’ve had my own thoughts on the subject.

I believe that this is a subject that will forever divide my generation, the effects which are still around today.

It is a subject that has been difficult not to politicize, so I started watching the Ken Burns documentary on Vietnam with some trepidation.

Having just finished the 2nd episode, I have to say so far I have been pleasantly surprised.

Episode 1 dealt with the end of WW2, the French trying to reassert their rule in the area, and the rise of the Viet Minh.

Episode 2 tonight took us through 1963, and the assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem. At the age of 13, I remembered the circumstances, but I got a lot of background added this evening.

If you can see it, I’d recommend it.

I’ll be interested how they cover the Tet offensive in 1968.

So far the program seems to present the history in an objective manner.

On your PBS station.


Filed under Vietnam

3 responses to “So Far, A Balanced Documentary

  1. Dylan Keyne

    I’ve just been reading about the political side of Vietnam and am familiar with Burns’s work, so this will be very welcome when it finally hits our shores…

  2. SteveC73

    Drafted in ’72 – you really messed up, man. 😉
    Bill, the one constant that I do believe most people can agree on is that the government screwed Everyone on this one. Which, to me, is the prime lesson: Do not trust those who think they know better than you what you need or what the country needs. Because they are so smart and went to such nice schools. It’s so much BS.
    Not sure that I’ll ever see this. I was draft age in 1969 but in college when I signed up. I paid attention to the war; I paid a lot of attention to it and to the way we were going about the business of messing it up (I could never really get my arms around the concept of that pissant country winning…still find it hard to believe that our government and military leaders were as incompetent and absurdly wrong about so much).

    • Bill Brandt

      Steve – the story of how I got drafted has its humorous side. I had a college deferment – in retrospect another wrong thing about Vietnam I think – but when I got out I had a low number but they were winding the war down.

      I just wanted to know my immediate future.

      So I call the draft board and ask.

      “We’re not taking many these days”, the fellow says.

      “By the way, what did you say your name was? ”

      Of course, I had to tell him 😉

      I got my notice a week later.

      On my last night at home, my mother, certain that I was going to be killed, asks what I would like for dinner.

      IIRC I had lobster and tortillas. (a culinary expert I was not).

      I remember getting sick – either from the odd dinner or nervousness.

      But looking back I think I can say my Army time was one of the highlights of my life. I was close to staying in and making it a career.

      I was proud to wear the uniform. I miss the camaraderie even 45 years later.

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