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  1. Unlike "Stay Alert, Stay Alive," which was not distributed to the general public, "The Ordeal of Con Thien" was shown on television as a 30-minute CBS News special with Mike Wallace. For that reason, it goes in the TV Forum instead of the History Forum. In the past day, I've begun three threads dealing with non-fiction, short films: "Stay Alert, Stay Alive" (police), "Stay Alert, Stay Alive" (army), and this one, which may not exist forever, as there's a clear disclaimer written at the opening - however, this video is duplicated on numerous websites - I even found one in color. The other two videos have different purposes (the police film is a Ned Beatty novelty, the army film is more to raise soldiers' spirits than anything else), and if you're only going to watch one of the three, and you wish to actually *learn* something factual and important about the Vietnam War, make it this one. Example: I had *no* idea that B-52s could haul and drop as many bombs as they can - the bombs coming out of the bomb bays looked like it was raining confetti at a ticker-tape parade. Another interesting thing about Con Thien (also called "The Battle of Con Thien") is that, although the report makes it sound like a slaughter, the statistics say that 1,149 Americans were killed, and 7,563 Vietnamese were killed - almost a 1:7 ratio. In terms of statistics, that's a pretty good trade-off, but our country simply didn't have the belly for this war, as so many people thought it wasn't supported by a noble cause (such as fending off Adolph Hitler from taking over the entire world). Thus, those 1,149 dead American soldiers might as well have been a million, and the number of Vietnamese killed wasn't even relevant to the American public - our boys were being killed for no good reason, and we needed to get them the hell out of there. The Vietnamese communists were being invaded by a foreign country, and were determined to defend their turf until the last man fell. A poem composed and recited by a soldier at Con Thien (properly spelled Cồn Tiên): "When youth was a soldier, and I fought across the sea, we were young and cold hearts, of bloody savagery. Born of indignation, children of our time, we were orphans of creation, and dying in our prime." Two extremely important leaders were interviewed, Lieutenant-General Robert E. Cushman, Jr. and General William C. Westmoreland: One fascinating thing that General Westmoreland said is essentially what I said just above: North Vietnam was fighting a psychological war at Con Thien, designed to weaken the will of the American public, and that's the only way they could possibly win this war. Well ... that statement is supported by the statistics I quoted up above, and ... the North Vietnamese's tactics worked. For those who don't know, Westmoreland Circle, on the border of Washington, DC and Maryland, is named after General Westmoreland. CBS War Correspondent John Laurence's brief report was perhaps the most interesting and revealing moment of the entire show, which demonstrates just how important it is to have an independent press; it is a polar opposite description of the situation from Westmoreland's, and the juxtaposition of the two is the highlight of the entire news report - the words are both riveting and chilling, and reveal two very legitimate viewpoints that are completely at odds with each other. Although this is merely a news report, it was presented in a way that made it thirty of the saddest minutes I have ever watched on television, and it is absolutely *no* coincidence that 1967 was such a pivotal year in Hollywood. And to think that this came the year *before* the election of Richard Nixon, the assassinations of RFK and MLK, the Tet Offensive, and Operation Neutralize (which was *directly* related to Con Thien) - 1968 was arguably the most historic post-WWII year in our nation's history, but in many ways, it was set up by 1967. Do yourselves a favor, and watch this entire film - you'll be somewhat unaffected during the first fifteen minutes, but those fifteen minutes set up the final ten minutes, which will rip your heart out.
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