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PBS Remembers the Vietnam War With Week of Special Programming
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Image: LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, sailors push a helicopter off a landing platform of the U.S.S. Kirk to clear room for more helicopters dropping off refugees (credit: courtesy of Craig Compiano, Courtesy of USS KIRK Association)


Directed and Produced by Rory Kennedy, LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM, From AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, Anchors April Programming Block

PASADENA, CA; January 19, 2015 [Updated] – During the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in January, PBS announced a slate of primetime specials related to the Vietnam War. Airing this April, the specials offer new perspectives on the tumultuous era and the endurance of the United States military during one of the nation’s longest wars.

LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE anchors the week of programming on Tuesday, April 28 at 9:00 p.m. ET. The film, by award-winning filmmaker Rory Kennedy, chronicles the chaotic final days of the Vietnam War. As the North Vietnamese closed in on Saigon, an unlikely group of heroes took matters into their own hands in order to evacuate as many South Vietnamese as possible. The film airs after the 8:00 p.m. ET premiere of KENT STATE - THE DAY THE 60’s DIED, which chronicles the nation’s upheaval during May 1970, the month in which four students were shot dead at Kent State University during a protest against the Vietnam War. The film marks the 45th anniversary of the tragedy. One day earlier on Monday, April 27 at 9:00 p.m. ET is THE DRAFT, which takes a look at the turbulent history of this American institution and dives into the discussion of how mandatory military service has defined our nation.  The premiere of DICK CAVETT’S VIETNAM, which follows at 10:00 p.m. ET, is a look back at the thought-provoking conversations the legendary talk show host had about the war with a range of public figures including Muhammad Ali, Billy Graham and Henry Kissinger.

“The Vietnam War and the 1960s were in many ways a turning point in our nation’s history — there is much we can learn from the era,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager of General Audience Programming for PBS. “These documentaries give us an opportunity to analyze the impact of America’s most controversial war, reflect on the progress we’ve made since and understand the lessons that will certainly affect our future.”

The Vietnam War related programs include:

  • THE DRAFT – The question of who serves in America’s military has shaped battle strategy and foreign policy and stranded Americans in uniform for years on distant battlefields.  From the Civil War to the conflicts of the Vietnam era, forced military service has torn the nation apart — and sometimes, as in WWII, united Americans in a common purpose. Hear how a single, controversial issue continues to define America. Part of PBS Stories of Service.Monday, April 27, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET.  
  • DICK CAVETT’S VIETNAM – On the 40th anniversary of the official end of the Vietnam War, this show examines the war and its impact on America through the prism of interviews conducted by the iconic host of “The Dick Cavett Show,” which featured thoughtful conversation and debate from all sides of the political spectrum. The program combines interviews from Cavett’s shows with archival footage, network news broadcasts and audio/visual material from the National Archives to provide insight and perspective on this controversial chapter of American history. Monday, April 27, 10:00 -11:00 p.m. ET
  • KENT STATE - THE DAY THE 60’s DIED – In May 1970, four students were shot dead at Kent State during an anti-war protest. The mayhem that followed has been called the most divisive moment in American history since the Civil War. From college campuses to the jungles of Cambodia to the Nixon White House, THE DAY THE 60’s DIED returns to that turbulent spring 45 years ago. Tuesday, April 28, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
  • AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: LAST DAYS IN VIETMAM– The latest film from award-winning filmmaker Rory Kennedy chronicles the chaotic final days of the Vietnam War as the North Vietnamese Army closed in on Saigon. With the clock ticking and the city under fire, American officers on the ground faced a moral dilemma: follow official policy and evacuate U.S. citizens and their dependents only or ignore orders and save the men, women and children they had come to value and love in their years in Vietnam. At the risk of their careers and possible courts-martial, a handful of individuals took matters into their own hands. Engaging in unsanctioned and often makeshift operations, they waged a desperate effort to evacuate as many South Vietnamese as possible. Part of PBS Stories of Service. Produced by WGBH Boston; station grants funded by CPB. Tuesday, April 28, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET.  
  • THE VIETNAM WAR (w.t) –  Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s series explores the history and meaning of the Vietnam War by focusing primarily on the human experience of the conflict, using the eyewitness testimonies of “ordinary” people — both American and Vietnamese — to paint a vivid picture of what it was like in the U.S. and Indochina. Part of PBS Stories of Service. Produced by Florentine Films; major funding provided by CPB. Premieres in 2017.

About PBS Stories of Service
As America’s storyteller, PBS is bringing together multi-platform content and powerful conversations around U.S. military veterans under the banner of Stories of Service. The national programming content features compelling stories of those who have served and provides a deeper understanding of our nation’s military history. Through public television on air and on, PBS member stations will create their own local content and provide community resources for returning veterans and their families. The initiative will educate the civilian population about our military history and highlight the contributions from the veteran community. The Stories of Service initiative was announced in May 2014 along with a community engagement campaign for select PBS member stations and their local veterans and funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), called Veterans Coming Home. The PBS programming under Stories of Service, many with funding support from CPB, includes, in 2014: COMING BACK WITH WES MOORE (May 13); NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT (May 25); DEATH AND THE CIVIL WAR: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE (May 26); D-DAY 360 (May 27); NOVA “D-Day’s Sunken Secrets” (May 28); CRAFT IN AMERICA “Service” (November 2); MAKERS “Women in War” (November 4); in 2015: THE DRAFT (April 27); LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE (April 28); HOMEFRONT (May 25); THIS OLD HOUSE HOMES FOR OUR TROOPS (various episodes from May 14-30); ON TWO FRONTS, LATINOS & VIETNAM (Fall 2015); and in 2017, Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s THE VIETNAM WAR (w.t.).

About PBS
PBS, with its over 350 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches nearly 109 million people through television and over 28 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and its website,, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at, one of the leading dot-org websites on the Internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.

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For additional information, photos, interviews and more, contact Goodman Media or PBS:
Chelsey Saatkamp / John Michael Kennedy, Goodman Media International for PBS, 212-576-2700
Carrie Johnson,PBS,; 703-739-5129
Michaé Godwin, PBS,; 703-739-8483

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