It's one of those things that's become common knowledge now. I'm just avoiding articles about it like the plague because the internet is full of dickheads who don't care if they spoil it in the comments section.
oh yeah, just about everything about vietnam was covered in my class, from its roots with the puppet government, our failure to back ho chi minh and his seeking aid from the USSR instead, the french involvement, all the way up to the clusterfuck that was agent orange, guerilla warfare and our final extraction of troops... we covered that whole song and dance. now our issues with deposing fidel castro were a bit more glossed over, but i think that has more to do with a smaller time table and the fact that it was high school.
that only works if they're a target for murder, less empathy is felt when its a crazed marauder who just fired a bolt into a window. and extracting empathy doesn't drive a plot forward, not that close to the conclusion, wash living or dying wouldn't have really had much of an impact on what happened in the rest of the film in anyway. Zoe wouldn't have gone rogue, but they still would have been driven back, the door still wouldn't have shut, Simon still would have forgotten his bag and been shot, river still would have gone apeshit saving everyone, Mal still would have gotten his ass kicked and had his lucky break in the end... Shepard's death actually meant something, it meant there were real stakes, and that Mal needed to start fighting a war. There really wasn't anything like that when Wash died.