Veterans and residents from around the metro filled the Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland for a special screening and discussion around The Vietnam War, an epic 18-hour documentary film coming to PBS, which co-director Ken Burns calls the most ambitious project they’ve ever done. Kansas City PBS CEO Kliff Kuehl introduced Burns, who discussed the film and set up clips.
After the screening, Burns, co-director Lynn Novick, and two local veterans featured in the documentary — Dr. James Willbanks and John Musgrave — joined moderator Nick Haines from Kansas City Week in Review on stage for a discussion and to take questions from the audience.
Dr. James Willbanks served in Vietnam in the early 1970s as an Army Advisor, and now teaches history at the Army Command and General Staff College in Leavenworth, Kansas. Musgrave, a Marine from Independence, Missouri, was awarded three purple hearts for his service in Vietnam, and features heavily in the film.
Prior to the evening’s event, Burns and Novick spent a full day in the area, first traveling to Leavenworth, Kansas, for a screening and presentation at the United States Army Command and General Staff College College. Afterwards, they traveled to downtown Kansas City to spend the day at The Midland. They spent time with students, screening part of the documentary film for area middle and high school students. They also met the finalist of our Vietnam Voices student video competition, watched their videos, and took questions from the audience.
Student videos featured in the program came from The Barstow School, Lee’s Summit West High School, Park High South HIgh School and the University of Missouri - Kansas City. Local veteran photographer James Rifenbark was also on hand to capture behind the scenes with Burns and Novick.
KCPT Members met the filmmakers and posed for photos during a Meet and Greet session prior to the evening’s event.