Beliefs and Values
Although the Vietnam War was a government call, most Americans were against the idea. The War was the second longest war in American history. Many Americans took it to the streets to protest for the war to end. It is to believe that the United States failed in the war due to lack of support from their people. Since the American people were becoming known as the "Silent Majority" Nixon addressed a speech about ending the war.
Vietcong- The Vietcong fought guerrilla war, this means they would set up booby traps, land mines, and bombs in places where they thought the US would have no idea. They would even dress like ordinary people so the US couldn't point out their enemy. They were supplied with rockets from China and Russia and would use the Ho Chi Minh trail in the jungle to plant their soldiers. Lastly one of the major things they did, was "hanging onto the belts" this means they would stay super close to the American troops to where they couldn't use any artillery without killing their own men.
American- The Americans fought "hi-tech war" which means they used B52 bombers, artillary, helicopters and "Agent Orange" in which killed many civilians and people to where they couldn't stop the Vietcong Guerrillas. They would send out patrols of troops which basically meant they were being used as bait. The troops would call out a name really luring in the Vietcong which caused "search and destroy" to become their next tactic.
Not only did the Vietnam war affect people overseas, it also affected the people back home a great deal. This war caused one of the biggest controversies which was the draft. The draft meant that the government could altar the number of troops in the war at any time. Men the age of 18+ were at risk of being called into war. The government would pick the youngest first because they'd be easier to put through the war. People would do anything they could not to be drafted. They would move to Canada risking imprisonment, fleeing the country, or even burn their draft cards. Alienation of the younger generations became significant since they decided to throw out traditional society and to do the opposite. This war caused a divide in America, younger people resisting, racial riots occurring, and extreme violence.
By 1968 there were half a million American troops in Vietnam and the people back home saw no end to the war in sight. The anti-war movement and the anti-war music era became relevant. The context of the music hit popularity because it touched everyone. Musicians like Bob-Dylan opened this up for American with his songs talking about militarism and cultural phenomena. Anti-war music became increasingly popular in the late 60s when Nixon became president. Protests were everywhere which left Americans angry and desperate for this war to end. Although this music wasn't ever the top choice on the charts, it did inspire and create a vibrant and liberating culture.
The anti-war movement originated in a small group of younger people such as college students, artists, intellectuals, and people of the hippie movement. On 10/21/67 one of the largest protests happened at Lincoln Memorial, over 100,000 people came, and 30,000 marched at the Pentagon that night. The movement had a major boost when the leader MLK became more famous. When Tet Offensive was launched it shocked the nation, a poll was taken and only 35 % of people actually supported the way Johnson was handling the war. Although the movement continued once Nixon was elected, he didn't hesitate to recognize the "Silent Majority" and at which he ended America's involvement of the war by 1971.
In the beginning of the war, the press and media had little to no interest in the war at all and most American families didn't have Televisions in their living rooms until about the end of 1960. By the end of 1960-1964 families would watch the bad news in their living rooms on popular stations such as CBS and NBC. After the Tet Offensive launch in 1968, the media made a mistake in missing the bigger picture which soon changed opinions of the public. The coverage of the launch became so negative to where they would show both civilian and military casualties on TV. Public Support declined majorly once more death and violence of the war was shown.
Since the war effort affected the economy so much that it strained the nations capacities. Factories that would normally be making things for everyday consumers, were making military goods. Having less consumer goods affected the economy greatly. Since all the money was going overseas and there was no money coming back towards our country so it caused a depression in the money sector. This caused an economic crash all the way up to the 1970s
This war was also known as the Second Indochina War and it's when the United States decided to intervene along with SEATO to help the Republic of South Vietnam. They were contesting against the Vietcong who were compromised between South Vietnamese guerrillas and North Vietnam Soldiers. By the end of the war it was known as the American war because it was led by the USA. It was the longest war in history. In the beginning it was led by JFK who was soon assassinated. Later the nation was led by Johnson in which he ultimately failed and led us deeper into the war and he lost most support of the nation, after he decided not to reelect, Nixon became head chief and led America to the end of the war.
In the US conscription has been used in many wars but especially the Cold War. Although they don't use it anymore at the 18th birthday of every male they have to register at the Selective Service System. In the Vietnam war 2/3 of troops were volunteered but the rest were involuntary through the draft. When their name was called, they had to be evaluated to determine whether they would stay or go. Most of the men drafted came from the lower class side of the spectrum, very few were form the upper class. Although it was a law to register, during this time a lot of the men would try to "dodge" the draft. Whether this meant fleeing the country, immigrating to Canada, or burning their cards. A lot of the anti-war movement established from young people and the idea of the draft.
Family life during the Vietnam war definitely took a turn that shook the whole nation. Fathers, brothers, and sons all drafted into the war that no one wanted to happen. Mothers had to take on all roles of the family as mom and dad. They did everything they could to keep their family together while deciphering whether they were going to see the men again. Although families during the war were constantly stressed, post war was ten times worse. Families were dealing with loss whether the men came back alive or they were dead. Mothers became single with a ring still on their fingers fighting for their family while the husbands and sons were fighting for their country and to stay alive.
Re-integration into Society
On March 29, 1973 the troops came home from South Vietnam. At the end of WWII soldiers were greeted with parades and were seen as heroes. This didn't happen for the Vietnam Vets. They were bombarded with horrible names, being spat on, and completely mistreated. American Society was so divided by the time they came home from war. Around 150,000 came home wounded or amputated while over 21,000 came home disabled or paralyzed for the rest of their lives. Although the physical wounds may be treated or fixable, over 700,000 soldiers came home with PTSD. Most soldiers either couldn't work or had to deal with low-income pay. This meant they had to go to the cheapest places for treatment and couldn't pay for help with their medical issues. Around 1980 American people realized the vets were being so mistreated. On November 13, 1982 the memorial wall was put up in Washington D.C to honor their sacrifices.
The Vietnam war was born upon the consequences and symptoms of the Cold War. It was the spread of communism over South-east Asia that was a threat to America. Since this was a fight over communism and the Americans were fighting with the South Vietnamese, the North Vietnamese had China and the Soviet Union to fight with them. Although the Vietnam was pretty straight forward with its purpose, it ended up being one of the most bloody wars to ever hit America.
Vietnam had the largest population of African Americans ever to serve in a American war. They made up to almost 13% in soldiers in this war. At the time, back at home there was a war as well. Vietnam and the Civil Rights Movement went hand in hand. The rise of "Black- Power" became huge in the 1960's as well. Vietnam was the first integrated war for America. Black soldiers saw the war as an opportunity to get out of the poor economic and social conditions at home. Rumors were told that the government saw the war as a genocide possibility; money was being given to Vietnam instead of poor black communities. It even came to the extent that the black soldiers saw themselves as equal to the Vietnamese; victims of white colonial racist aggression. This encouraged anti-war from at home.