You will watch clips from Ken Burns’, 10 part, 18-hour documentary, The Vietnam

You will watch clips from Ken Burns’, 10 part, 18-hour documentary, The Vietnam War (which took nearly 10 years to produce). Unfortunately, just a few clips cannot really do the documentary justice, but it will provide some insight into the thoughts and feelings of those who lived through the war, including the Vietnamese. If you want to watch more about the Vietnam War, you may watch one of the episodes for extra credit.
Watch The Vietnam War—Joining the Marines. In this clip, you will hear from Roger Harris, John Musgrave, and Bill Ehrhart. You might want to take notes to answer the questions below.
Watch The Vietnam War—Draftees and Protestors. In this clip, you will hear from individuals who didn’t serve and/or protested against the war. You might want to take notes to answer the questions below.
Watch Clip Three, They Endured
In this clip, you will hear author, Tim O’Brien, reading an excerpt from his novel, The Things They Carried. William Timothy O’Brien is an American novelist. He is best known for his book The Things They Carried, a collection of linked semi-autobiographical stories inspired by O’Brien’s experiences in the Vietnam War. In 2010, the New York Times described O’Brien’s book as a Vietnam classic.
Here is the script:
They shared the weight of memory. They took up what others could no longer bear. Often they carried each other, the wounded or weak. They carried infections. They carried chess sets, basketballs, Vietnamese-English dictionaries, insignia of rank, Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts, plastic cards imprinted with the Code of Conduct. They carried diseases among them malaria and dysentery. They carried lice and ringworm and leeches and paddy algae and various rots and molds. They carried the land itself—Vietnam, the place, the soil—A powdery orange-red dust that covered their boots and fatigues and faces. They carried the sky. The whole atmosphere, they carried it, the humidity, the monsoons, the stink of fungus and decay, all of it, they carried gravity. They moved like mules. By daylight they took sniper fire, at night they were mortared. They crawled into tunnels and walked point and advanced under fire. But it was not battle, it was just the endless march, village to village. They marched for the sake of the march. They plodded along slowly, dumbly, leaning forward against the heat, unthinking, all blood and bone, simple grunts, soldiering with their legs, toiling up the hills and down into the paddies and across the rivers and up again and down, just humping, one step and then the next and then another…They made their legs move. They endured.
QUESTION ONE: Evaluate the enlisted, draftees and protestors:
Do you know anyone who served in the Vietnam War? Are you from a military family?
Of those who served, what did the men have in common? How were they different? Of those who did not serve, what did the men have in common? How were they different?
What did those who served in the Vietnam War carry with them, both during and after the war? In other words, how would you summarize what the men who served in the Vietnam War carried with them both during and after the war—not just from O’Brien’s reading, but also INCLUDING THE WORDS OF THOSE VIETNAMESE AND AMERICANS IN THE THIRD CLIP?
QUESTION TWO: Evaluate Letters Home From Vietnam
In the third clip, the narrator says, “The Vietnam War was a tragedy—immeasurable and irredeemable. But meaning can be found in the individual stories.” Keeping this in mind, what did you learn from reading George’s letters that you read for the Perusall Assignment?
What did you learn from the letters of Sp/4 George T. Olsen (the letters you read for the Perusall Assignment)? How does reading the thoughts of one soldier impact your view of the war? Explain at least three facts, details or emotions about serving in Vietnam and/or about the perspective of the soldier that you learned from these letters.
Drawing on what you know from your textbook as well as from this activity, if you had been alive during the Vietnam War, do you think you would have supported the war or would you have been against the war? Explain your response.