Only the Beginning (1971)

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It was the strange and sad fate of the America's Vietnam GIs to return psychologically unprepared to a country that didn't want them. This twenty-minute newsreel documents a group of GIs, numbering in the thousands, who overcame this rejection by crossing over into the protest movement upon their return. The film follows these GIs as they arrive in Washington, D.C. and assemble for a march on the U. S. Capitol. At the film's powerful climax, hundreds of soldiers take their medals of honor and discard them on the Capitol lawn, a gesture whose gravity is simply riveting. Only the Beginning is a priceless piece of U. S. history and the film that served as the documentary basis for the Hollywood movie Born on the Fourth of July.