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Documentary film directors Ken Burns and Lynn Novick will speak at Middlebury College with alumnus and Vietnam veteran Mike Heaney ’64.

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Filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick to Speak at Wilson Hall March 21

March 12, 2018

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Documentary film directors Ken Burns and Lynn Novick will speak at Middlebury College on Wednesday, March 21, at 7:30 p.m. in Wilson Hall at McCullough Student Center. Burns and Novick will share the stage with Middlebury alumnus Mike Heaney, a graduate of the Class of 1964, who served in Vietnam and is featured prominently in the PBS series The Vietnam War, which Burns and Novick released in 2017.

Following a brief screening of clips from the series, Rehnquist Professor of American History and Culture Jim Ralph ’82 will moderate a panel discussion among the three guests.

With interviews from nearly 100 witnesses, The Vietnam War gives new insight into a dark and devastating chapter in American history. The series features extensive interviews with Americans who fought in the war and those who opposed it, as well as Vietnamese combatants and citizens from both sides.

Ken Burns. Photo by Tim LlewellynLynn Novick. Photo by Stephanie BergerMike Heaney ’64. Photo by John Sherman

Heaney arrived in Vietnam as an infantryman on Christmas Day 1965. In May of the following year, his platoon was ambushed by Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army regulars while on patrol in the Central Highlands. During the attack, 10 men around him were killed in less than a minute, he recounted in a Middlebury Magazine article. Heaney himself suffered a severe injury in that battle when mortar shrapnel hit his leg—a wound that kept him in the hospital for three months.

Heaney describes working on the Burns and Novick series as a blessing. “I got to tell the story of my 10 lost men, to give them at long last a voice of their own. I swore I would keep their memories alive.”

During their time on campus, Burns, Novick, and Heaney will also visit classes in film and media culture and history.

The conversation will take place at Wilson Hall in McCullough Student Center. Doors will open at 7 p.m. for Middlebury ID holders only. Non-ID holders may enter at 7:15, space permitting. Overflow livestream viewing will be available in Crossroads Café. No recording or photographs are permitted at this event.

This event is made possible by the Robert P. Youngman ’64 Roundtable Fund.