"I don't think there is such a thing as a good war," says Sam Hynes, a fighter pilot. "There are sometimes necessary wars. And I think one might say 'just' wars. I never questioned the necessity of that war."
Such is an entry point into The War, Ken Burns’ documentary about World War II. Up close, you see how necessary and just this war was. You see how horrific it was. Its massiveness.
You pause at the great honor and courage that drove so many people to come together at an unbelievably pivotal point in history. The outcome was anything but foregone, which is what makes the story so jarring and real. It cuts deep.
You know the axiom about those who forget history are destined to repeat it. See The War. You need understand this part of our history. I know that I do. Here is an excerpt from an excellent review of the documentary:
"The War" invigorates history - in an honest fashion. Burns succeeds precisely in the areas that looked most daunting before he started. He tells the story from the ground up, from the people who fought the war and those who waited for them at home. "The War" is less about generals and tactics and the wonky talking heads of history lessons than it is about the experiences of veterans who can say, plainly, this is what I saw, felt, experienced and took with me. This is what happened to me and the people I knew on the battlefield. Here's why I went and how I'm different for going.
One of the brilliant aspects of "The War" is how every time people open their mouths on camera, it's as if Burns coaxed a secret or a memory from them that they wouldn't have offered up anywhere else - maybe not to their own families. This isn't a regurgitation of facts or memories or battle plans, as on the History Channel. It's people whose entire life's essence was the war, though they would never have chosen it to be. And in "The War," they open up about it in ways that will have tears flowing across the country.
One the one hand, there are some parallels to what is going on in our current world. On the other, the present is something completely different. We are too far removed from the reality of what it means to be at war. See The War.