Looking back on Vietnam

Salon presents a week-long retrospective on the war and its consequences, at home and abroad.

Published April 24, 2000 4:00PM (EDT)

On April 30, 1975, Saigon fell to the communist forces of North Vietnam, ending the war. Twenty-five years later, the lessons of the failed American mission to intervene in Vietnam are still being absorbed, and the scars are still visible -- both on the national consciousness and on the individual lives of those who fought, or fought against, the war.

All this week in Salon, we look back on the Vietnam War's effects on American society -- the political legacy of a failed military campaign, the cultural aftershocks of the anti-war movement and the consequences of sacrifice without victory. As the ideological skirmishing over our involvement in Vietnam continues, time and distance has allowed some examination of the war's meaning and cost, outside of the political context.

Beginning Monday, we present pictures and excerpts from Barbara Sonneborn's Academy Award-nominated documentary "Regret to Inform"; from April 27-30, the entire documentary will be available for viewing on the Salon.com site. She documents her pilgrimage to the very jungle where her young husband, Jeff, spent his last days alive. Along the way, she encounters widows from the other side of the war, survivors from both the North and the South, whose experiences are very much like her own. Later this week, join Sonneborn in Table Talk, Salon's discussion area, to participate in an ongoing interview.

Also today and throughout the week, we ask figures from widely different points on the political spectrum -- from David Frum to Todd Gitlin -- to look back on the lessons the war the war has (and hasn't) taught the nation. Midweek, reporter Jake Tapper travels to Vietnam with Sen. John McCain to report on the buildup to the anniversary.

We will also talk to sound designer Walter Murch, who brought helicopter sounds to American film during the Vietnam war era. We speak to Daniel Ellsberg, the analyst-turned-anti-war activist who released the explosive Pentagon papers. Later in the week, Pulitzer Prize-winning Vietnam historian Stanley Karnow offers his retrospective on the war.

By Fiona Morgan

Fiona Morgan is an associate editor for Salon News.

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