I think I may be more-or-less insane by saying this, but I'm kind of wishing that Burns and Novick & company had made an even longer film. Maybe even up to six hours longer. Both Episodes 8 and 9 felt somewhat rushed to me, in contrast to the more detailed documentation in the earlier episodes. I would have liked to have had more interviews with the Vietnamese soldiers--both South and North--and some of the South Vietnamese leadership and the Viet Cong. I know most of the people who were in power at the time (in the North and the South) are now dead, but I feel that discussing events during the "Vietnamization" process from the perspective of the Vietnamese, especially members of ARVN, would have been both informative and eye-opening.
I also wish that the film makers had interviewed some of the National Guard troops and/or law enforcement personnel who were there that day at Kent State. What was going through their minds at the time? How did they deal with what they had done after it happened? What do they now think about their own actions on that day?
The Wall: I've only visited it once, a few years after it was dedicated and I think prior to the installation of the accompanying sculptures (unnecessary, I thought, but installed to appease those who wanted a more traditional war memorial). I think what makes The Wall so powerfully effective is that it doesn't try to mold the visitor's opinion, as other memorials do. It's just a collection of names. But it's a collection of names of those who died and that's what makes it personal. Each individual who visits the wall knew somebody or several somebodies up there on the wall. Small wonder that it's turned into a de facto shrine, with people leaving letters, medals, photos, flowers and other offerings along the length of its base. I think I read a few years ago that the National Park Service is planning on opening a museum to house and display all those offerings that have been left at the wall since it was dedicated.
The main takeaway, so far, that I've gotten from this documentary is that the failure of leadership has devastating consequences. From the presidents on down to whoever the genius was who decided it was fine to issue live ammunition to the NG and law enforcement at Kent State, there was such a massive lack of leadership, with politics determining policy. In this film, it seemed as if the persons demonstrating leadership at its finest were the geology professor at Kent State who begged everyone to disperse in order to avoid further bloodshed, the helicopter pilot who shielded and saved those villagers whom he could at My Lai, the soldiers who led some to safety in the same place, and the platoon and squad leaders out in the field who never demanded anything of the men under their command what they themselves would not be willing to honorably do.
Emotionally drained, but looking forward to Episode 10.