Pain & Pride: Remembering Vietnam – 50 Years Later

November 10, 2017 By David Oziel

“For those of us who were there, Vietnam remains a memory of frustration, of fortitude, of pain and pride” – Jim Bohannon, Vietnam War veteran, Westwood One host.

Westwood One News looks back at 1967, a pivotal year in what may have been the most polarizing event of 20th century America. Nearly half a million American troops were fighting in Vietnam at that time and the anti-war movement at home was heading toward a fervent peak. The news special “Pain & Pride: Remembering Vietnam – 50 Years Later” is airing on radio stations all over the country this weekend, and can be heard it in its entirety below.

In their own voices, veterans share their stories with Vietnam War veteran, Westwood One’s Jim Bohannon, and former Westwood One executive, White House press secretary, and NBC News Vietnam War correspondent, Ron Nessen.

Some soldiers expected it to be “like a John Wayne movie;” others call it “a special kind of hell.” Some saw it as a patriotic duty to serve their country; for others, there were feelings of doubt and fear. For better and worse, we hear how the Vietnam War changed their lives forever.

In “Pain & Pride,” the terror of war and a divisive home front is brought to life through the recollections of those who were there and from archive audio from Westwood One News, including audio from a similarly titled program 30 years ago. As the war escalated, so did the rise of the counter-culture and the anti-war movement. Thousands of Americans took to the streets in protest demanding an end to the war. But not all Americans felt that way, as we hear soldiers saying the protesters were aiding and abetting the enemy.

Against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, the fight for racial equality was being waged at home. Dr. Martin Luther King turned his moral voice and ringing rhetoric against the war and African-American soldiers expressed their own dilemma serving during Vietnam. But some say they experienced a certain type of equality that didn’t exist in most sectors of society.

The U.S. suffered over 47,000 killed in action in Vietnam, plus another 11,000 noncombat deaths; over 150,000 were wounded, with 10,000 missing. Army veteran Jan Scruggs, founder of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C., describes his inspiration for “The Wall,” memorializing by name all who died in Vietnam.

Jim Bohannon looks back 50 years with filmmaker Ken Burns, producer of this fall’s multi-part documentary series “The Vietnam War,” and provides his personal thoughts from his own war experience. Has America recovered from Vietnam? What is the perspective from Vietnam today? Have we properly acknowledged those who served? Honoring our veterans, Westwood One News presents “Pain & Pride: Remembering Vietnam – 50 years later.”

By: David Oziel