The Vietnam War: Fostering Dialogue Through Different Perspectives

By Anne Finucane, Vice Chairman at Bank of America  |  Jul 03, 2017

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

It has been fifty years since the Vietnam War, and it remains one of the most formative events in modern American history. The war itself – along with the fierce controversy it incited – shaped our politics, diplomacy, economy, culture and so many families in a lasting way that still reverberates today.

Who was right and who was wrong? That’s the way we usually discuss Vietnam, but is that conversation really useful, particularly when it is couched in such divisive, black and white terms? If we really want to understand what happened in Vietnam, we need to acknowledge that the story cannot be told from any one point of view, but only by bringing together a collective of many different perspectives. It also allows a whole generation to learn, perhaps for the first time, how pivotal Vietnam was in forming in reshaping the American psyche.

That’s the thinking behind a new documentary series from historian Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, The Vietnam War, premiering on PBS in September. The series gives viewers a complete view of the war, bringing together perspectives from American soldiers and protestors as well as Vietnamese combatants and civilians who were involved from both sides.

Films like The Vietnam War provide the opportunity to bring together different perspectives in productive conversations, turning moments that could divide us into opportunities to unite us through open dialogue and debate that help foster understanding, resulting in stronger communities better prepared to take hold of economic growth. That’s why Bank of America is proud to once again partner with Ken Burns and Florentine films; it’s just one way we are enabling social and economic progress to help build strong, vibrant local communities.

This film also underscores our long-standing support of our military service members and their families. For more than 100 years, Bank of America has served the military on bases around the world as their bank away from home. We’re also deeply committed to supporting veterans, active duty military and military families as they transition back to civilian life. We’ve committed to hiring 10,000 additional veterans because we know we are a stronger company because of the vets, reservists and military who work with us. Their service in the military has instilled a set of values, a strong work ethic, and, in many cases, special skills that have made us a better company.

And while The Vietnam War explores the military perspective, the film series delves into so much more. It explores the tenets of leadership and decision making, the rise of citizen activism, the role of the media in telling an unvarnished story, and the impact of war on families – both American and Vietnamese. Topics that are as relevant to communities today as they were 50 years ago.

Overall, we believe that our role in supporting our communities and driving sustainable, responsible growth includes providing the capital and the opportunity for dialogue and difficult conversations. It is only by promoting dialogue and understanding that our society can move forward together. This is rooted in our belief that we can only succeed when the communities we serve are succeeding.


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