Mainers will get the chance to see some of Ken Burns’ new PBS series, “The Vietnam War,” before it airs in September.

And they’ll get the chance to hear veterans and people who care for veterans talk about the war’s personal toll.

Maine Public, the state’s public TV and radio network, is hosting a series of community screenings of the film and some panel discussions as well. The series, which airs on Maine Public and other PBS stations beginning Sept. 17, is a 10-part, 18-hour look at the war by Burns and his longtime collaborator Lynn Novick.

But the screenings, beginning this week, will give people in Maine a chance to see an hourlong highlight film of the series in a theater setting. The first screening is Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Camden Opera House. There will also be one Aug. 24 at the University of Southern Maine’s Hannaford Hall in Portland and another Aug. 29 at Husson University’s Gracie Theatre in Bangor. The events are free, but reservations are required. For tickets, go to mainepublic.org and find “The Vietnam War” under events.

The screening at the Camden Opera House is being presented as part of the Points North Institutes’s monthly screening of documentary films. The institute runs the annual Camden International Film Festival.

The screenings in Bangor and Portland, as well as a sold-out one in Damariscotta on Aug. 22, will also feature panel discussions about the war and its impact on Mainers.

The discussions will be moderated by Adria Horn, director of the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services and a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. One of the panelists will be Chris Beam of Lewiston, who served in the Marines during the Vietnam War and was later director of the Edmund S. Muskie Archives at Bates College. Other panelists will include health care professionals, educators and people who work with veterans.

Besides the free screenings, Maine Public is getting state residents involved in the discussion around the Vietnam War and Burns’ new series with a project called “Courageous Conversations.” People are asked to submit their remembrances of the war online to be shared on the Maine Public website. A day or so before the Sept. 17 premiere of “The Vietnam War,” some of the stories will air on Maine Public Radio. Videos of Mainers telling their stories will also be played at some of the screenings.

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 210-1183 or at:

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