1987 - United States - 87 minutes
Writers - Veterans of the War in Vietnam
Director - Bill Couturié
Internet Movie Database User Rating - 7.5/10 - Link to IMDB
Roger Ebert's Rating - 4 of 4 Stars - Link to Ebert's Review
My Rating - 5 of 5 Stars

During this past week, I didn't see a new DVD that I felt was worth recommending so I went into my own personal collection and pulled out Dear America… as a Veterans Day tribute. It was an HBO Special derived from the book of the same name. If you have not had the privilege of reading the book, I heartedly recommend it and offer this link to Amazon.com where it can be purchased.

When I see and read the newscasts daily of young soldiers being killed in the Middle East, it reminds me of this book and film.

The film offers readings by celebrities of letters from soldiers serving in Vietnam to friends and relatives back home. In the film, the letters are certainly poignant, but needless-to-say, are far more shattering in the book.

The thing that gives the film its extra punch is that all videos are actual recordings of the time, and it is filled with news broadcasts of the time. The most haunting newscast comes early in the film in which President Johnson is stating his justification for increasing the forces and activity in Vietnam. If you substitute "terrorists" for "Communists" and "Iraq" for "Vietnam," Our current President could have given the speech word for word. Obviously, this proves that those in power cannot learn from history and that is the bent of bilious, old politicians to send young soldiers off to be slaughtered in places of no consequence for any justifiable reasons, and these are certainly bipartisan sins.

The film ends with a reading by Ellen Burstyn written by the mother of William R. Stocks on February 13, 1984 - fifteen years after his death - that she placed at the Vietnam Memorial. It is wrought with emotion but so eloquently states the mindset of both soldiers and those who wait at home in fear that one cannot help to be affected by the message.

If you are too young to remember Vietnam, this film is a great history lesson. If you lived during that era, this film is a sober reminder. Watch it, learn, or remember.

Neil Turner
November 13, 2006

Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam