“We did what we had to do at the time it had to be done”, says World War II vet Maurice Benson in The War in HD – World War II and Vietnam, a six-disc set released on 10/9/12 by The History Channel. Before the series itself we view “Take A Vet To School Day” while being told that “There are still younger people fighting for our freedom all over the world, and we can’t forget them.” The Service Vet dogs that help our vets are not forgotten either, including Samson, who fetches for a vet with a prosthetic leg and provides him with bracing support to help him be mobile.
The World War II series, on four discs, contains episodes ranging from Darkness Falls (where we learn how Europe comes under Nazi control and all about the Pearl Harbor attack) all the way to the Glory And Guts of Americans at war in the Pacific and to End Game, the final blow to Japan and the fall of the Axis. Film footage is taken from rare films (3,000 hours of color footage no one knew existed for years and then found during a two-year world-wide search). Now this footage is beautifully edited and put together in a story line and presented on HD. We view and learn about the first battles at Guadalcanal and in North Africa, the Axis and Charles Schaffel battling Rommel, MacArthur’s island-hopping, D-Day and so much more.
“That man shall know bread and peace, that he should know justice and righteousness, freedom and opportunity, that he shall know an equal chance to invoke his best not only in our land but throughout the world” is invoked by Winston Churchill over the image of a trembling child, after which we see hordes of “normal” Germans saluting Hitler and shouting “Zieg Heil!” as Hitler speeds through a city standing up in his black Mercedes. Poignant and individual stories of World War II veterans are told, including that of Jack Werner remembering a young Mississippi farm boy who’d become a soldier shot in a foxhole next to him, never knowing what was happening to him. “There was nothing great about him,” Werner extols, like the majority of The Great Generation who also gave up their lives, great only in giving up everything for their country.
Never boring, both visually and in audio (including real-life experiences and songs of the times), this six-disc set moves along quickly and is both comprehensive and compassionate. Werner talks about how he came to America and made a good life for himself while “Europe seemed so far away,” including the disturbances of the Nazi Party abroad. We hear Winston Churchill speak about freedom and see school children and pilots and contacts between civilians and “common” war heroes as “We shall never surrender,” and “If we can stand up to them, all will be free.” We learn that it was illegal for U.S. soldiers to carry diaries, but many had notes about the war hidden inside their packs.
Accompanying the four-disc set on World War II (including one on The Air War), there are two discs on The War In Vietnam, from the very beginning in 1964-65 to “search and destroy” operations and Americans questioning the integrity of the war to the very end, the fall of Saigon. These are the men who “won every battle in a lost war” during an entire decade of fighting.
“When I hear about people talking about Vietnam and they say it’s a war that we lost, I can’t necessarily argue with that, but it immediately brings to mind the people who made sacrifices over there,” says Vietnam Vet Keith Connelly. “Nobody asked them, ‘Do you want to go?’, nobody said ‘Yeah I want to go,’ we were directed to do it and by God we did it.”
In 1975 the U.S. finally recognized the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the first ambassador there, Don Devone, had been a POW in Vietnam himself and tried to bury his war experiences until he found out that his children were proud of him. More than 2.5 million Americans served in Vietnam and their average age was 22. In 1982 the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C. with the names of the 58,272 people who died serving their country in Vietnam.
Extremely attractive to both history buffs and the general public, I highly recommend The War In HD – World War II and Vietnam. As one astute vet tells us, “You know they say that the World War II guys were the best generation. Well, those who fought every war since then were the best of their generation. They went, they served, they sacrificed, and they fought like tigers. They were noble.”
Reviewed By Christina Zawadiwsky
Christina Zawadiwsky is Ukrainian-American, born in New York City, has a degree in Fine Arts, and is a poet, artist, journalist, critic and TV producer. She has received a National Endowment For The Arts award, two Wisconsin Arts Board awards, a Co-Ordinating Council Of Literary Magazines Award, and an Art Futures Award, among other honors. She was the originator and producer of Where The Waters Meet, a local TV series created to facilitate the voices of artists of all genres in the media, for which she won two national and twenty local awards, including a Commitment To Community Television Award. She is also a contributing editor to the annual Pushcart Prize Anthology (and has received one herself), the recipient of an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association, and has published four books of poetry and has had poetry and fiction in hundreds of literary periodicals. She has reviewed music for Music Room Reviews, films for Movie Room Reviews, Movie Scribes, and FilmSay, and is currently reviewing books and films online for Book Room Reviews at www.bookroomreviews.com while also showing artwork professionally.