Synopsis by Mark Deming
In the late 1960's, the war in Vietnam was widely criticized by activists and college students across the United States, but at the dawn of the 1970's new voices joined the outcry against the war. Vietnam Veterans Against the War (or VVAW) was a group formed by men who had served in Vietnam and had come to believe that the war -- and America's presence in it -- was wrong. In early 1971, as reports of the 1968 My Lai Massacre and the court martial of Lt. William Calley were still in the news, the VVAW organized what they called "the Winter Soldier Investigation," in which Vietnam vets and VVAW members were encouraged to come forward and take part in public hearings in which they discussed war crimes they had witnessed first hand. Held in Detroit, the hearings were an emotional outpouring in which veterans discussed horrific violence against civilians, women and children, talked about how military commanders sought to dehumanize the Viet Cong in the eyes of the soldiers, and expressed their desire to prevent other young men from suffering as they did. A handful of filmmakers were on hand to document the event, and Winter Soldier is a disturbing but often moving account of men coming to terms with the horrors of war. While the makers of Winter Soldier were uncredited on screen, they included Fred Aranow, Nancy Baker, Robert Fiore, David Gillis, Barbara Koppel, Michael Lesser and Michael Weil. The title of the film and the investigation came from the work of Thomas Paine, who in 1776 wrote, "These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."
anti-war, investigation, soldier, testimony, veteran [military], Vietnam, war, war-atrocities