VETS LOSE A FRIENDLY PLACE FOR COFFE AND CONVERSATION

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By Barbara Rodgick

On Friday, June 15, PBS ended its popular, monthly “Coffee and Conversation with Veterans” program. Originally intended to complement the Ken Burns series, The Vietnam War, this program brought together Vietnam veterans, wives, survivors of veterans, younger veterans, political representatives, VA representatives and other interested parties to talk about the Vietnam experience. All of the participants added to the discussion and enriched the conversation. Moderated by Juan Rangel, a 30-year veteran, PBS recognized the sacrifices and hardships that Vietnam Vets endured with conversation and commemorative coins and pins.

As time went on, the group evolved to talk about more current issues and concerns in the community. With coffee and sweets (provided by the Starbucks on E. Flamingo) Vets talked about what was on their minds and shared resources and information about upcoming events. What was the overall assessment of the Ken Burns film? Every veteran watched the film through the filter of his/her own experiences. Some liked the film, some didn’t. But most seemed to appreciate the effort Burns took and realized that 18 hours can’t capture everything. But, it can still be an important way to begin the conversation.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana