From my perspective the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick production of “The Vietnam War” had but one objective: to reinforce the standard anti-war narrative that the Vietnam War was unwinnable, illegal, immoral, and ineptly conducted by the allies from start to finish.
Although Burns and Novick don’t besmirch veterans as flagrantly, their misrepresentation of the war and its warriors has reopened old wounds. It’s not just Vietnam veterans’ reputations at stake; how we view this war shapes how we view ourselves as Americans.
Just war theorizing has typically left the issue of national honor untouched, although warriors and statesmen routinely emphasize the importance of vindicating the sacrifice of the fallen. Does prolonging a war in order to assuage or vindicate national honor comport with the just war tradition?
My Lai is rightly associated with disgrace, abhorrence, and sorrow. But because of the actions of a few brave men who stood against their own, My Lai ought also to be associated with courage, decency, and love.