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Tennessee vets react to the Ken Burns docoumentary 'The Vietnam War'


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  Some Tennessee veterans are questioning the editorial balance of Ken Burns new documentary addressing the war in Vietnam.

The sixth episode of the 10 part documentary ran Sunday night on PBS.

Burns recently told the New York Times that he worked to make the series politically neutral. For example, he tells the story primarily through interviews with the people who fought the war rather than political pundits, historians, or political and military leaders.

But not everyone is pleased with the result. Bill Norton leads the nation’s second largest chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America located in Chattanooga. Norton is a former Marine who served in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969. He had a brother killed in the fighting.

Norton says Burns gives too much credit to critics of the war who thought the U.S. had no compelling interest in Vietnam and that the war was unwinnable.

“Basically that we shouldn’t have been there to start with. Maybe he’s right, but that ain’t the way my family took it. We were there because we were doing what we were asked to do and what we thought was the right thing.”

Norton says he met this past week with about a hundred Vietnam vets and most share his view.

“It’s just so negative about what our impact was and what we were doing. It’s almost like he had no value on our lives during the course of this film.”

Norton does say the tone of the series is improving as it goes along.

Tennessee vet Scott Cunningham had a sligtly more postive view of the series, telling WMOT in an email that he'd learned a number of things about the conflict he didn't previously know.

The remaining episodes will air over the next four weeks on PBS.