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WALPOLE, N.H. (AP) – Ken Burns thought he was done with war movies after his series “The Civil War.” But he says two troubling statistics fuelled the creation of “The War,” a 14-hour documentary about the Second World War.

“It was really a couple of statistics that got me,” Burns said. “One was that we’re losing a thousand (Second World War) veterans a day, and the other is that our children just don’t know what’s going on.”

Burns said he was astonished at the number of high school graduates who believe the United States fought with the Germans in the Second World War.

“That to me was terrifying, just stupefying,” said Burns, who will show the first two-hour instalment of “The War” to Dartmouth College on Dec. 1.

The series follows four American towns – Waterbury, Conn., Mobile, Ala., Sacramento, Calif., and Luverne, Minn. – through the war years, focusing both on the soldiers from the towns sent to war and the families and friends left behind. “The point of view is from ordinary people, who do the fighting and who do the dying in all wars,” Burns said.

© The Canadian Press 2006

BARBARA HAYES on April 27th, 2007 at 12:02 pm 

Hello Ken, I have enjoyed your documentaries through the year, and, above all, to know you are putting your creativity behind a WWII series. i am of the greatest generation, now 8o, and was in High School all through the war, then later worked on the Manhatten Project at Oak Ridge, Tenn. I had two brothers and a future husband serving in WWII. One in the European Theater, 3rd Army, 6th Cavalry Mechanized, chosen to be Patton’s recon. sqdn.He survived to come home with an Irish bride. Another brother was in the US Merchant Marines and he traversed all the oceans to deliver troops and supplies, then bring home the wounded. He also came home safely.
My husband served in the CBI…China/Burma/India Theater of war,an area that is considered the FORGOTTEN WAR, very few understan the role played by the CBI. First the fought with the Chinese Army to stop them in Burma, known as Merrils Marauders. They rebuilt the Burma/China road that was destroyed by the Japanese Army, but the greates fete was the tons and tons of supplies flown over the ‘Hump’ the Himalayians at great loss as the Japanese Army hheld a lot of territory
inland China. The CBI retrained the Chinese Army in new tactics, as well as teaching them to fly American made Air Planes along with learning to maintain them. The CBI was bombing Japanese mainland before forces in the Pacific were able to establish a definitive air strip until Iwo Jima and next Okanawa was taken. So I want you to help Americans remember the role of American and Chinese fighting as allies, together from the west as the Marines, Navy, Air Force,and Army made their way, Island by Island up the Pacific.
There are good sites on the web that can give you all the history you want about CBI, assuming that perhaps that area may have been overlooked.
I sent the news articl about your work on WWII to our CBI message board, and it was distribute via E Mail to the hundreds of CBI family:Veterans, widows, sons, daughters, grandchildren and other kin that need informaton about CBI.
The message center is run by Tom Miller, a hump pilot.
the history cite is run by the son of a CBI veteran:
I have researched all of my husband’s CBI and military records. He server 28 years through three wars:WWII, Korea, VietNam, retired in 1968 100% disabled veteran, deceased in 1986.
Thank you for the time you have taken to read this long mail. We all fight for recognition of the role of the CBI in WWII.

BARBARA HAYES on April 27th, 2007 at 12:10 pm 

Sorry Ken, made a mistake in saying we fought the Chinese in Burma…it wa the Japanese, but with american and chinese forces. Please figure out some of my typos and the font is so small it is difficult to read. I am still a novice at cyberspace and Pc’s but try hard to covey my thoughts…thanks again BahbN
nail@ (Portsmouth, NH)

Barbara Hayes on February 12th, 2008 at 8:57 pm 

No comments from Ken Burns about the “Forgotten War” fought in CBI (China, Burma India).NH High schools are now in a competition for collecting Oral Histories from WII Veterans, or families. PBS will eventually make a documentary, after the contest, on these Oral Histories. I hope my contribution concerning CBI will make a difference. The young media students at Portsmouth High School were attentive, interested and diligent during the process. Looking forward to PBS producing this endeavor, covering all aspects of WWII and CBI

Michele Chybkey on December 31st, 2009 at 11:49 pm 

Wow. Ms. Hayes you have a lot of knowledge. I was browsing around trying to find a way to contact Mr. Burns, to ask a couple questions….but I am figuring out it’s next to impossible.
I am actually endeavoring to make a documentory about my town, while I and my friends were growing up….the stories we remember about our little spot in the world. Just some stories we remember from our childhood, and how things have changed. Mostly for our grandchildren to know what it was like when their grandparents grew up in the same exact place they are growing up now.
I’ve never done anything like this (except a short PSA in college)and just wondered how he got started and what motivates him…..stuff like that.

Lonitra on May 4th, 2011 at 8:21 am 

YouÂ’re on top of the game. Thanks for srhiang.

Lowell Thomas on August 5th, 2012 at 11:32 pm 

I have just viewed the encore airing of _The War_. I was not certain if I had seen it in its entirety when it was initially broadcast, and I wanted to be certain that I had not simply missed a sequence wherein the CBI was given its due. As much as I admire the work of Ken Burns, I find it incredible, and frankly inexcusable, that he ignored totally the CBI theater. Even if he felt it was not a large enough operation to merit periodic chronological segments, as was done for the European and Pacific operations, one would have expected at least a single segment, even if only to capitalize on the fame of General Chenault’s ‘Flying Tigers’! I am perhaps too sensitive regarding this oversight, as my late father served under “The Old Man” for the duration of the war.
Lowell – U.S.A.F., 1971-76

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