The Vietnam War: East Tennessee, a documentary trilogy

The Vietnam War: A True American

Knoxville’s history is America’s history, and the Vietnam War is a prime example. Thousands of young men and women from East Tennessee volunteered or were drafted to serve in the war. Hundreds of them never returned. The foundations of democracy were tested on the streets of Knoxville as East Tennesseans opposed to the war clashed with those who supported U.S. policy. It culminated in a confrontation between protestors and President Richard Nixon during a Billy Graham evangelical crusade at Neyland Stadium that made headlines all over the world. Knox County Public Library is pleased to present The Vietnam War: East Tennessee, a documentary trilogy on Sunday, November 12, at 2:00 p.m. at Lawson McGhee Library. Each film in the trilogy is 30 minutes long. Admission is free.

In the fall of 2016, Buck Kahler of Nolpix Media was working as an intern at East Tennessee PBS. When he heard about Ken Burns's challenge to PBS affiliate stations to create a 30 minute local documentary tie-in for Burns's & Lynn Novick's The Vietnam War, he immediately began developing episode ideas. Kahler said, "Working on a project in conjunction with Ken Burns would be a dream come true. As a combat veteran I wanted to work with other veterans." Along with Land Grant Films, a non-profit documentary project at the University of Tennessee's School of Journalism, East Tennessee PBS won a WETA grant for the development of the mini-series, The Vietnam War: East Tennessee.

The first film, A True American, follows the Vietnam War experiences of five African American soldiers from East Tennessee. The second film, A Sense of Revolution, was partially funded with a Humanities Tennessee grant due to its focus on national and local social unrest during during the civil rights and Vietnam War era. Finally, in Generations, we see Vietnam Veterans paired up with modern war veterans for powerful discussions about their war experiences, and their post-war lives. Local actor Steve Dupree narrates all three films. Locales include Knoxville College, The University of Tennessee, UT Gardens, and Helen Ross McNabb Military Services Facility.

A discussion with the filmmakers will follow the screening.