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Mark Leonard is encouraging area residents to take part in a unique opportunity which includes a look at the past.

On Tuesday, the public is invited to a free preview for the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick film “The Vietnam War.”

The event will start at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Eppley Auditorium on the Midland University campus in Fremont.

“The Vietnam War” is a 10-part, 18-hour documentary film series, which tells the epic story of the war as it has never before been told on film. The series premieres Sept. 17 on NET television. The first five episodes will air at 7 nightly Sept. 17 through 21, and the final five episodes will air at 7 nightly Sept. 24 through 28 on NET.

“This screening (on Tuesday) will give people an opportunity to sample segments from throughout the entire 18-hour documentary and hopefully pique their interest in seeing more,” said Leonard, general manager of NET public radio and television.

The documentary series features testimony from almost 80 witnesses, including many Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as Vietnamese combatants and civilians from both the winning and losing sides.

“It’s done with interviews and footage — not from the experts or the leaders of the war—but from the people who were on the ground and affected, whether they were serving, stateside, protesting or were Vietnamese. So it has many, many perspectives and I think is probably the most complete view of the complex story of the Vietnam War,” Leonard said.

Leonard noted the time it took to make the series.

“This is the long-awaited next project for Ken Burns—one that has been in 10 years in the making, and given Ken Burns’ stellar reputation for being America’s storyteller and the importance of the history of the Vietnam War, we feel that it is just a very, very important documentary series,” Leonard said.

The Tuesday night screening will be followed by a moderated discussion for those who attend. Screenings already have taken place in other cities.

“It was a long, important, controversial part of our history and so the chance to not only see it, but to interact with each other — as well as a panel of experts—is tapping into a lot of pent-up emotion and unlocking what are in many cases some suppressed feelings about the Vietnam War — so we are finding it to be an overdue and very, very powerful experience,” Leonard said.

The preview event will be hosted by Nebraska Educational Telecommunications (NET), Nebraska Daughters of the American Revolution and Humanities Nebraska.

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Leonard said the series will be repeated so if viewers miss an episode, they will be able to catch up during a rebroadcast as well as those viewing online – the latter of which is an opportunity for those who are NET members.

To become a Net member, a person becomes a financial supporter at $60 level or higher and that includes the membership in the streaming service which is called NET Passport.

“It’s one of our newest member benefits,” he said.

More information on that is available at netnebraska.org or by calling 1-402-472-9333 and asking for the membership department.

Area residents also may visit netNebraska.org/vietnam for additional information on the Ken Burns’ series.

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