Agent Orange alert

Documentary should be widely seen


May 7, 2007


The lingering tragedy of the herbicide Agent Orange, here in America and especially in Vietnam, is the subject of a hard-to-watch-but-must-see documentary, "The Last Ghost of War." So far, it has appeared in small settings, on college campuses and last week at the Asia Society in Manhattan. But it deserves a far wider audience, as a catalyst to a much-needed national conversation on Agent Orange.


It's hard to watch because it does not shrink from showing deformed Vietnamese children. Their parents were exposed to the herbicide that our armed forces sprayed widely, to remove the jungle that hid the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army. It also focuses on a Long Island couple, Michael and Maureen Ryan. Their daughter, Kerry, was born with 22 birth defects after Michael's exposure to Agent Orange.


It's a must-see because we need to reflect on how little our nation has done to address the harm that so many attribute to dioxin, the toxic contaminant in Agent Orange.


The courts haven't helped Vietnamese victims. In 2005, a federal judge dismissed their lawsuit; their appeal will be heard in June. In the wider court of public opinion, this film by The Gardner Documentary Group can be a powerful tool. The Public Broadcasting Service is considering the film for its national schedule. Our advice: PBS should air it.

Copyright 2007 Newsday Inc.