Any time Ken Burns and Lynn Novick release something into the world it's an event, but The Vietnam War may just be their most important work yet. That's saying a lot, given the long shadow Burns' The Civil War casts in popular culture. When we talked to Burns and Novick a few months ago, Burns said of Vietnam that “It’s the most important event in the second half of the 20th century.”
Sunday night, you'll be able to watch part one of the series at 7 p.m. on Houston Public Media TV 8 (in addition to PBS stations across the country). This series is so important to the folks at Houston Public Media that they're not just airing The Vietnam War, they've created a variety of supplemental programming to air along with it.
Here are the details on that programming:
September 18, 8:30 p.m.
Like many other Vietnamese Americans of her generation, news reporter Lily Jang’s family immigrated to the US at the end of the Vietnam War, eventually making their way to Houston. Join Lily as she journeys back to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) to check out the vibrant youth culture of the city where she was born and discovers surprising Vietnamese/Houston cultural connections in fashion, food and more.
September 21, 8:30 p.m.
The concept is simple: bring together a Vietnam Vet and a Vietnamese refugee who immigrated to the US after the war for a simple meal, and see where the conversation leads. Then do the same with a 2nd generation immigrant and child of a veteran. The goal of the program is to help build bridges between Veterans and immigrant communities – who have sometimes had trouble connecting – and to shed light on the nature of citizenship, assimilation, and what it means to be an American.
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“Getting Here: Journeys From Vietnam”
September 24, 8:30 p.m.
In the early 1970s there were fewer than 100 ethnic Vietnamese in Houston. Today, the region is home to more Vietnamese Americans than any other place in America outside of California. This program highlights the fascinating and often harrowing stories of several Vietnamese families as they escaped Vietnam and came to call Houston home.
The documentary itself takes a deep dive at an uncomfortable part of American history, and these added productions from Houston Public Media serve to give it even more depth, which is why they'll also be airing in other markets across the country as well as VIETV (which is based here in Houston).
“The war was terrible for everybody, in different ways but some of the same ways,” Novick told us. These may not always be easy watches, but they sound necessary.