Premieres Sunday, September 17 at 7 p.m.
About the Film
Ken Burns and Lynn Novack’s ten-part, 18-hour documentary series, The Vietnam War, tells the epic story of one of the most consequential, divisive, and controversial events in American history as it has never before been told on film. Visceral and immersive, the series explores the human dimensions of the war through revelatory testimony of nearly 80 witnesses from all sides Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as combatants and civilians from North and South Vietnam.
Wisconsin Vietnam War
Part 1: Escalation
Early events that set the conflict and United States participation in Vietnam are outlined. Wisconsin Vietnam veterans share stories of strong bonds of combat brotherhood that came from increasing adversity. Members of the Army, Air Force, Marines and Navy recall the allure, challenges and heartbreaking loss of early combat against the increasingly rampant advance of the Viet Cong.
Part 2: Turning Point
As the war waged on, scenes of deadly attacks are juxtaposed with the American public's increasing animosity toward the war. The Tet Offensive shocked both soldiers and the world due to previous beliefs that the enemy was incapable of such an effort of massive military force. Veterans reflect on the staggering casualties in Vietnam, and describe their own modes of coping with the reality of war.
Part 3: Draw Down
Though the war began to wane, dangerous missions continued against the North Vietnamese Army. Veterans recall scenes during the last major battles, where many lives were lost in the jungle terrain. Secret missions in Laos helped combat enemy threats against the Hmong population. As the U.S. began to pull back troops, thousands of refugees were evacuated and POWs were finally released back home.
Way of the Warrior
Exploring the warrior ethic among Native Americans, this documentary also reveals how Native communities have traditionally viewed their warriors and why, during the 20th century, Native men and women have signed up for military service at a rate three times higher than non-Indians.
Wisconsin Vietnam War Stories
Wisconsin veterans share personal stories of their experiences in the Vietnam War. Please note: These oral histories may contain language that can be considered profane, racially insensitive or otherwise offensive. The language has been retained to give an accurate historical record of their remarks.
"We were fighting to get our own selves back home. We had to protect each other to get back."
"I felt kind of strongly that we all owe a debt to those that didn't make it to live our lives better. To try to do something to help people.”
“They bombed the hell out of everything. Nothing changed...we won nothing over there.”
"In hindsight, probably the biggest strength in my adult life was my experience in Vietnam — the experience of the friendships and brotherhood, and lack of barriers and lack of discrimination.”
George Miller & Duke
“My dog was the best. You wouldn't be a true dog handler if your dog wasn't the best. They're just like a human being. He could almost talk.”
Milwaukee County War Memorial Center believes every veteran has a story. A story that’s critical for future generations to hear.
Local Peace Movement
Madison native David Maraniss, author of "They Marched into Sunlight," discusses his book that documents anti-war movement activities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison during two days in October 1967.
John Garofolo, author of "Dickey Chapelle Under Fire," shares stories of female American war correspondent Dickey Chapelle, a Wisconsin native and award-winning war photographer, who was killed in combat while on patrol with the U.S. Marines in Vietnam.
Hmong Refugee Resettlement
Fred Prehn DDS, a former member of Wausau School Board during the time immediately after the Vietnam War, reflects on how Wausau helped out Hmong refugee families.
In May 2010, the LZ Lambeau Tribute Event at Green Bay's Lambeau Field honored and thanked Wisconsin's Vietnam veterans, while offering a warm welcome home that many never received.
Motorcyclists Honor Vietnam Veterans
Here and Now sits down with Vietnam War veteran Butch Soetenga, a WPT videographer and editor of "Wisconsin Vietnam War Stories," to discuss an honor ride that culminates at the LZ Lambeau event in 2010, which remembers those who served in Vietnam.
Black Music and the Black Experience in Vietnam
Lauren Onkey, the vice president of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, moderates a panel discussion with: Art Flowers, William Bell, and Clyde Stubblefield.
Warfare and Public Perception in 2050
John W. Hall, former Army strategist and U.S. military history professor at UW-Madison, discusses how the Vietnam War impacts current American conflicts. Lecture recorded in 2010.
The people of the Menominee Nation have fought to protect their homeland for generations. This documentary profiles veterans of the Vietnam War who are working to help today's veterans cope with the invisible scars of combat.