TRAILER: New Documentary Honors Latino Vietnam Vets & Their Loved Ones Who Protested the War

We already know that a disproportionate number of Latinos serve in the U.S. Armed Forces these days, for diverse reasons. Some do it out of patriotic duty, others for the prestige and economic stability, others still make the sacrifice to take advantage of incentives like the G.I. Bill or job training. While this is the demographic reality of an all-volunteer army, Latinos have actually played a significant role in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines since well before our latest incursions in the Middle East.

Directed by Mylène Moreno, the new PBS documentary On Two Fronts: Latinos & Vietnam, explores the legacy of Latino participation in the Vietnam War and beyond. Focusing primarily on Mexican-Americans from the Southwest, Moreno gives a voice to Latino veterans who perhaps hadn’t previously received the recognition they deserved for their service.

Taking as her point of departure the story of two siblings on opposite sides of the war – Everett Díaz as a soldier on the front lines, and his sister Delia as a protester back home – Moreno delves into the complexity of the Mexican-American military experience, and explores how their outsider status compelled many families to prove their value as Americans on the battlefield.

Comprised of interviews and archival material in the form of newsreel footage and personal photographs, On Two Fronts is a celebration of the patriotic sacrifices Mexican-Americans have made over the years, often out of a genuine sense of duty and honor. A secondary profile also includes the story of an enthusiastic Puerto Rican soldier who became ambivalent about his service after encountering discrimination and hypocrisy within the military ranks, adding yet another layer to a story that continues being written to this day.

On Two Fronts: Latinos & Vietnam airs September 22, 2015 at 10 p.m on PBS.