Wikimedia Commons / U.S. Marine Corps

The Vietnam War was one of the most divisive times in American history. Not since the Civil War a century earlier had so many Americans found themselves on opposite sides. Often the rift was generational but not always.

But unlike during World War II, the film industry stayed away. Most of the films we know today that deal with the Vietnam experience were made decades later.

Lynn Howell/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

On Sept. 24, 1968 — when the Vietnam War was raging — 14 anti-war activists broke into a downtown Milwaukee government building and burned draft records. They became known as the Milwaukee 14.

"In those days, we studied both sides. We took action. We believed in those days that we could change things, and we did it somewhat," says Bob Graf, who was a member of the Milwaukee 14. He is now a retired educator and community organizer.

Doug Bradley, Craig Werner

The Vietnam War marked a turning point in American history. The war took place during a time of turbulent social change – the 1960s and early 70s saw huge strides in women’s rights and civil rights. The country also witnessed the assassinations of a president, a presidential hopeful, a civil rights icon and the killing of unarmed protestors at Kent State by National Guardsmen.

The song Cinnamon Girl, by Neil Young, likely brings listeners of a certain age back to a distinctive point in time...  the end of the 1960s, when opposition to the Vietnam War was reaching a peak, and the country seemed on the verge of coming apart at the seams.

Image courtesy of Janine Sijan-Rozina

If you live in Milwaukee, you may have driven past Sijan Field on Kinnickinick Avenue in Bay View or the F4C Phantom Jet near the airport on College Avenue. Both of these landmarks are dedicated to Milwaukee native Lance Sijan.

He served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War and received a Medal of Honor posthumously.

US Army photo

November brings Veterans Day, and also this year the fiftieth anniversary of the major battle in the Ia Drang Valley of Vietnam involving the U.S. Army 1st Cavalry Division. Casualty rates on both sides made this one of the costliest battles of that long war, and ironically reinforced the strategies of both Hanoi and Washington.

A decade later in 1975, Hanoi's overall approach was confirmed when North Vietnamese regulars overran the capital of South Vietnam, now Ho Chi Minh City, as the few remaining Americans evacuated.