Right now there is a documentary being run on The History Channel called “Vietnam in HD”; while it is easy to blow it off as yet another film on the old war, I have to say that as a history buff and documentary watcher this one is different. There has only been one other documentary to affect emotion out of me the way I felt watching Vietnam in HD and that was “Reich”. The context of these 2 shows is in giving it to us raw with no chaser, no punches pulled and most importantly the cause and effect of both wars.
Movies and Documentaries – Depicting Life
In Reich I learned of what Germany was going through prior to Hitler and how he systematically came in as savior, then moved on to cleaner, then finally became complete authority. The pace in which he moved and made decisions was blindingly fast and before you knew it as a German citizen you were being forced to send your children off to camps, shun your Jewish friends and become a part of something wicked. The documentary showed us the real scene behind what was depicted in that excellent series Band of Brothers.
Vietnam in HD shows us the reality of the war situation from the soldier’s standpoint. It gives us a real backdrop to the dramas Hollywood has put out like We Were Soldiers, Full Metal Jacket and Hamburger Hill. Documentaries show real footage as opposed to film which shows people playing the part of real soldiers. They are necessary for those who have no interest and time to read the books from the survivors or the texts by the scholars.
Let’s Honor Our Veterans
Here on Hall of The Black Dragon we love to tell tales of the men and women who defied the odds and committed movie-caliber acts in the line of fire. We label them badasses, we talk about the Medal of Honor and what it took to gain it. Yet we never talk about the soldier, I mean we talk about those few who will be immortalized in text but we never talk about The Soldier; The homeless man who battles his PTSD daily as he takes it day to day; the drunk who comes around the gas station every night to sit outside and fight his demons; the young man that can’t find work because he has a hard time fitting back into the day to day; the abusive husband…
Not to dwell on the negative but this is the reality of war and the aftermath for a lot of people.
We use our soldiers up and we discard them. In ancient Rome a Legionnaire lived extremely well if he made it to retirement – for all our comparison checks to Rome, I don’t see that being emulated. While some vets that defied the odds have grown to become authors, congressmen, senators and even presidents there are a host of others who have found it impossible to return to “normalcy” after seeing action. This is reality and while the term War is Hell has become a commonly stated cliché, the words are true even to those that make it beyond the battlefield.
Photo from: Politico.com
This Veterans Day I would like to extend my pen on this site to ask those of you who have no ties to the military to put aside the cynicism and think on those who have chosen to do it. The Vietnam War drafted young men and women into a grinder of death, drafted as in no choice, you go or we lock you up and today due to the volunteers that enlist we can choose to stay out of it.
Let us support the Veteran’s foundations that are trying to help out the soldiers with PTSD and the homeless if it isn’t too much trouble. If you have never sat and talked to a survivor about life, his/her past and even the war I would urge you to do so if you have the chance. When you can put a face to Veteran’s Day whether it be family member, friend or co-worker that you admire, it will take on a bit more meaningfulness to you than anything Hollywood can show for a mere 2-3 hours.
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