The Vietnam War came to be when the North Vietnam and its southern allies, known as the Viet Cong, went against South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States. The war began in 1954 after the rise to power of Ho Chi Minh and his communist Viet Minh party in North Vietnam, and continued against the backdrop of an intense Cold War between two global superpowers: the United States and the Soviet Union. The rise of the Viet Minh came from a deeply rooted conflict with Japan and the French, because they had invaded Vietnam during World War II. Because of this they wanted to fight both colonial administrations, and ultimately through the Vietnam War, the country was unified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
A homefront is the civilian population and activities of a nation whose armed forces are engaged in war abroad. The United States Home Front stood hand in hand firmly fighting to keep the negative repercussions to a minimal. Unfortunately war does bring fatality, and although our home front was capable of softening the blow, the damage was still unimaginable.
A time from 1948 to 1973 through both peace and conflict when men were drafted to fill vacancies in the United States Armed Forces. This came to be when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, which eventually blossomed into the Selective Service System. The birth dates of all white men, ages 18-26, were put into tiny capsules and then into a large bowl to be drawn. The drafts were organized through way of lottery, so of the men who were sent to war, many of them didn’t want to; it came down to civic duty, and the law. This happened until the end of the 1973 Draft when the U.S. converted to an All-Volunteer Military.
-25% (648,500) of total forces in country were draftees. (66% of U.S. armed forces members were drafted during WWII.
-Draftees accounted for 30.4% (17,725) of combat deaths in Vietnam.
-Reservists killed: 5,977
-National Guard: 6,140 served: 101 died.
-Total draftees (1965 - 73): 1,728,344.
-Actually served in Vietnam: 38%
-Marine Corps Draft: 42,633.
-Last man drafted: June 30, 1973.
The Vietnam War involved a flexible mix of guerrilla and conventional warfare. The Vietcong, also known as the The Vietnamese Communists, were the military branch of the National Liberation Front (NLF), and were commanded by the Central Office for South Vietnam. They were located near the cambodian bored and consisted of uniformed full time soldiers who operated over a much larger area than the others within their own districts. These soldiers were the real deal, they believed in what they were doing and felt as though they were in the backyard, inherently giving them the advantage. They were very well equipped for nearly every aspect of war. They had guns, knives, and for destroying armored vehicles or bunkers, the Vietcong had highly effective rocket propelled grenades and recoil-less rifles. Mortars were also available in large numbers and had the advantage of being very easy to transport. The Vietnam War sparked the now familiar concept of Guerrilla warfare. Guerrilla warfare consists of multiple bases. Safe places to retreat too during war. These bases were well hidden, and nearly impossible to find unless you knew where to look. Guerrilla warfare is when a smaller group of more mobile men take part in raids, sabotage, and ambushes against a generally larger and less mobile army. Because of their tactics, the United States was forced to take a different approach.
The Vietnam War saw the highest proportion of African Americans to serve in an American War, even though blacks have participated in every other war waged by the United States. Despite delays in racial progressions, African Americans still fought in the war against Vietnam. Unfortunately during their service in the war, some African Americans faced just as much brutality from their allies, as their enemy. African Americans played a major role in Vietnam and, in the process, changed the complexion of the U.S. Armed Forces. Contrary to popular impressions, a large proportion of African American servicemen were well-trained, highly motivated professionals; some 20 received the Medal of Honor, and several became general officers.
The Sound of War
War during the 1960 was very controversial and in turn those who felt they couldn’t just say what they mean, his many meanings and opinions about the war in their music. There were many songs of protests, and some songs were sang because people believed it helped keep spirits alive during dark hours. Some songs were written to lighten the mood of war, therefore they were more upbeat and focused more on themes of happiness and life. Many songs represented patriotism, which is the most common and important theme to people during times of war.
The role of media in the Vietnam War is a subject of continual controversy. Media played a major role in broadcasting the atrocities and tragedies that come with war. The war became just another thing for people to watch on their tv’s in the living room. People would gather around the tv and watch people brutally kill one another. The unsecured broadcasting of the war not only changed the beliefs and values of those watching, knowing they had a loved one in the war, but in some cases it also provided crucial information to the enemy. The very real and tragic photos of the media during the time period affected the war, and still have an affect in today’s society; the images successfully and vastly influenced the American public opinion in unprecedented proportion.
The “Domino Theory” coined by President Eisenhower in 1954 is the first propaganda effort that fueled the fire that was the Vietnam War. The domino theory proposed the strategic importance of South Vietnam in the effort to prevent the spread of communism throughout the world. It assumed that if South Vietnam fell to communism, Southeast Asia then New Zealand, Australia and even Japan would follow and thus Communism would soon become a threat to the national security. Along with the domestic efforts to gain support for the war, the U.S. government soon began many psychological operations to assist the new government of South Vietnam. Because of this, many programs were set in place during the duration of the war. Many political cartoons were created for propaganda purposes.
Thousands of people protested. Many gathered in streets and rioted, others went on strike, demanding something be done to help put an end to the Vietnam War. The anti-war movement began mostly on college campuses and then expanded to all affected and willing to stand up for what they believed in. This resulted in a widespread disillusionment-people just wanted to help and did both the right and wrong things even if it was only for the slightest chance that it could help. In turn this affected the country politically, and the protesting needed to be put to an end. Following the uprising of protest and it’s negative repercussions, Nixon claimed in a famous speech that anti-war protesters constituted a small–albeit vocal–minority that should not be allowed to drown out the “silent majority” of Americans.
Government and Foreign Policy
Foreign Policy was the government's way of dealing with other countries. Slowly, through the presidencies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, the goal of modernizing South Vietnamese society and containing communism became increasingly affected by military means. Further, it seems clear that, regardless of how much effort the United States geared towards Vietnam, American defeat was inevitable, and because of this the government implemented multiple laws and policies, one of which being the foreign policy.
War is a time where all effort and all supplies is put towards the ultimate efforts and the soldiers fighting the war. Those eligible for the draft, went to war, and those that remained had to fill the soldiers places in factories and other jobs. Hours doubled and even tripled all to maximize the production for the war, pouring nearly 168 billion dollars into the war. Intern the Vietnam War damaged the U.S economy severely. Because of the damage, following the end of the Vietnam War, the war on poverty began. Surcharges and taxes were put in place to fix the damage, but it was far too little too late.
Family played a major role in both the beginning and the end of the Vietnam War. Families helped spark the war, because it was what they knew. Everyone is taught something from a young age, and once they are old enough to act on it, their actions are inevitable. Families also played a motivational role in the war, because for those soldiers with families, there was nothing they wanted more than to fight their way back home, back to the ones they loved. For those who were able to get back home, their future kids will always be influenced knowing that their father helped fight one of many bad wars. For the kids that remained in the United States during the war, they played a role in fueling the concept of war. Kids are very observant, and can’t differentiate whether something is good or bad, and because so many people were fighting and it was broadcasted, there was a vast mental influence.
Values and Beliefs
A war is fought when countries have different beliefs regarding what is best for their people, and in tern there is war. As a country during the Vietnam War, the U.S valued the idea of eradicating communism and defeating the threat at the source. Unfortunately to fight this, as a country we had to set aside some of our values and liberties with little result, because unfortunately, year after year Americans bore witness, through mass media, to the bombing, the firestorms, the shooting, the killing of Vietnamese, and the deaths of U.S. soldiers. Values and beliefs cannot stand on their own without outside influence, and because this war was considering the “living room war’ many people’s values were altered by the horrific images and videos that were broadcasted in living rooms all across the country.
Reintegration into Society
After the war, many veterans had a difficult time readjusting to the new society. Often Mental illness such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), kept many veterans from being able to get jobs. Many also are lost because they were close to the people they fought with and some of the majority of these people had fallen during their service. Many became homeless, because they could not afford to support themselves let alone pay house bills. They came back to the now unfamiliar feeling of safety, still haunted by their memories of war. Our country has yet to find a more efficient way of thanking our veterans for their service.