On Two Fronts: Latinos and Vietnam

Powerful new PBS film examines the Latino experience at home and overseas during the Vietnam War, September 22

By LatinoLA Contributor
Published on LatinoLA: August 26, 2015

On Two Fronts: Latinos and Vietnam

ON TWO FRONTS: LATINOS & VIETNAM, premiering on PBS during Hispanic Heritage Month, captures a complex aspect of the Vietnam War: the legacy of Latino veterans and their families during the conflict. Airing Tuesday, September 22, 2015, 10:00-11:30 p.m. ET, the program examines the Latino experience during a war that placed its heaviest burden on working-class youth and deeply affected Latino communities. The documentary is part of PBS Stories of Service -- providing compelling stories of those who have served and a deeper understanding of our nation's military history.

ON TWO FRONTS producer Myl?¿ne Moreno takes a comprehensive look at pivotal events on both the homefront and the battlefront, painting a vivid portrait of Latino Americans during a tumultuous time. Through compelling stories and candid interviews, the film conveys the rich heritage of military service, a deeply rooted part of Latino cultural identity in the U.S., and looks at the contributions made by Latino veterans and their families during the Vietnam era. The film also explores the controversy and changing attitudes amid the growing Chicano anti-war movement and within a community reeling over disproportionate losses and divided over participation in the war.

"This absorbing new film gives viewers a fresh new perspective on the significant role played by Latino Americans during a defining moment in our nation's history, and offers extraordinary insights into how this diverse group helped shape events during that turbulent time," said Dave Davis of Oregon Public Broadcasting, the film's presenter.

Filmed in the Southwest and in Vietnam, ON TWO FRONTS: LATINOS & VIETNAM includes firsthand accounts from dozens of Latino veterans and their families and commentary from historians, social activists and other experts. To evoke the dramatic events unfolding at home and overseas, the documentary combines lush photography with home movies, archival footage, graphic newsreels and personal photographs.

Latinos began questioning the cost of war and the price of citizenship for the first time during the Vietnam conflict. In communities where there were few alternatives to service, the war exacted a heavy toll among Latinos.

"With this film, we wanted to look back, five decades later, with the benefit of hindsight, at the Vietnam War -- at its costs and consequences -- and ask some difficult questions about the price of war and citizenship," said producer Moreno of Souvenir Pictures, Inc.

At home, the Latino anti-Vietnam war movement gained momentum --a radical departure from past wars, when Latino civil rights activists used high rates of military participation to prove their worth as good citizens. This time, activists pointed to similarly high rates of participation -- and mortality -- and argued that Latinos were being exploited. Latinos organized antiwar events to address both the war and conditions at home, culminating in unprecedented protest rallies for Chicanos.

Overseas, Latino soldiers were presented with both opportunities and challenges. Alongside Anglo-American and African-American soldiers, many discovered their differences faded away during combat. Others describe racial tensions and stereotypes that persisted in Vietnam or upon returning home.

For many, the price of service was too high. Latino veterans still suffer post-traumatic stress disorder in higher percentages than black and white American veterans. Many of the Latinos who went to war returned ill-prepared for college and to the same limited career options they had before leaving home. If one reason Latinos fought for their country was to trade service for career benefits, then Vietnam's legacy did not always fulfill that promise.

Produced by Souvenir Pictures, Inc., ON TWO FRONTS: LATINOS & VIETNAM is a presentation of Oregon Public Broadcasting in association with Latino Public Broadcasting, with major funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. For more information, visit www.ontwofrontsmovie.com

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About Myl?¿ne Moreno

Los Angeles-based filmmaker Myl?¿ne Moreno makes documentaries that reflect her diverse cultural interests. She has followed Mexican f??tbol fan?íticos in Los Angeles and profiled notable Arab Americans in all walks of life. Recalling Orange County was a personal look at immigrant rights and education in California's Orange County. True-Hearted Vixens featured female jocks pursuing dreams of professional athletic greatness in a startup tackle football league. She produced the first episode of the landmark PBS series, ?íCHICANO! History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement. Moreno is a graduate of Stanford University's documentary film program.

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