03/14/10 — Author to speak on Vietnam at WCC Tuesday

View Archive

Author to speak on Vietnam at WCC Tuesday

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 14, 2010 1:50 AM

Jack Kannan served in the 173rd Army Airborne Brigade.

His unit was one of the first sent to Vietnam when the conflict began, in 1966.

But as a young soldier, he admits he didn't fully grasp the concept of war.

"I think as a Vietnam vet, having served in Vietnam before I understood and now seeing Iraq and Afghanistan, it's interesting to me," he said. "What have we learned from these wars?"

He's intrigued by the answer to that question, and has spent much time reading up on this nation's history, especially as it relates to wartime. He said he has cringed whenever other country refer to the U.S. as being "warmongers."

Yet he's also been entranced to see how presidents along the way have handled war situations, from Jefferson and Roosevelt on down the line to Vietnam, the terrorists and now the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"We're the strongest nation in the world by far, the strongest military in the world," he said. "I'm almost willing to stop and think, is it the right thing? Are we going too far? Are we trying to do too much in the world? Should we fall back and assess things?"

Michael Hunt, Everett H. Emerson Professor of History emeritus at UNC-Chapel Hill, has recently edited a book on the topic -- A Vietnam Reader: A Documentary History from American and Vietnamese Perspectives.

He also boasts a military background, growing up in a military family and spending part of his youth in Japan, Turkey and Vietnam.

On Tuesday, he will be speaking at Wayne Community College on The Vietnam War: What We Have Learned From Today's Wars.

"This is a gift to the public," said Kannan, director of the college's Foundation.

The program, held at 7 p.m. in Moffatt Auditorium, is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the college's arts and humanities program.

"I have a diversified group who travel around and attend different lectures, see different plays," Kannan said. "Whenever they run into an idea they think would be good to bring to WCC and they let us know, we check it out, make contact."

In a military community like , Hunt seemed to be a good choice for a program, Kannan said.

"So many of our military are in Afghanistan and Iraq," he said. "This type lectures gets you to think from a different angle. I think it will be interesting.

"It's not going to be a right or wrong answer. It's to get us to think. It will be thought-provoking."

Following the program, there will be a book signing and copies of Hunt's book will be on sale for $20 each.