Culture of War- Vietnam By Melia Buckton

Values/ Beliefs

The Vietnam War was the first war to be shown on television in American history. As families gathered around the television every evening, they would watch the national news. Photographers and cameramen would show terrifying images, “including the charred body of a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, the assassination of a Viet Cong sympathizer, and the bloodied, deformed corpses of Vietnamese villagers slaughtered” American reporters, traveled alongside U.S. troops, and would broadcast the painful reality of life and death during the Vietnam war. People from all sorts of different backgrounds demanded for the US troops to immediately withdraw from the war and put an end to American involvement in the war in Vietnam.

Vietnam Tactics

  • They would ambushing US patrols, set booby traps and landmines, and planting bombs around towns.
  • They would dress in ordinary clothes and mingle with the peasants, so the American could not establish who the enemy was.
  • They would use rockets and weapons that were given to them by China and Russia
  • "hanging onto the belts" of the Americans, which was staying close enough to the Americans, so they could not use air or armed backup without killing their own soldiers.

Americans Tactics

  • using B52 bombers, weapons, helicopters, ammo and poisons
  • They forced the other citizens to leave Viet cong ruled areas and allowed them live in defended strategic hamlets in loyal areas.
B52 Bombers

Home front

Citizens were not supportive of the draft, they believed that it was morally and politically wrong for the United States to be involved in the Vietnam war. Due to the extreme lack of support for the war, life in America was much different than before the war. The diffusion between supporters and anti-war believers was very large. “Many anti-war organizations such as the Committee for Nonviolent Action and the Committee for Sane Nuclear Policy were formed in order to begin an anti-war movement.” A majority of college students were anti-war supporters and believed that our involvement in the war was wrong. The anti-war movement caused a large amount of riots to start. Rebellions caused violent protests and mutiny. Many American citizens were injured and even killed in these outbreaks. The people believed that the war was unnecessary and pointless, and this caused a lot of tension in the country.


To begin, the famous folk musician Bob Dylan recorded the song “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” it was written in 1963, just before the public began to object to the America’s participation in Vietnam war. Some song lyrics would include “There’s a battle outside/and it’s ragin’/it’ll soon shake your windows/rattle your walls” this was an obvious reference to what could happen now that the Vietnam War has begun. Much of popular music in the 1960s was another protest for all the anti-war believers. Several current influential music artists used their talent to get the attention of a wide audience did not support the war.


It was said that “if one country came under communist influence or control, its neighboring countries would soon follow in a domino effect.” The theory dramatized the strategic importance of America’s involvement with South Vietnam. It was meant to convince american soldiers to fight in the war, attempting to prevent the spread of communism throughout the world. It meant that if South Vietnam fell to communism, then Southeast Asia, New Zealand, Australia and even Japan would follow and therefore, Communism would become a threat to the national security.

The domino theory, The U.S. needs to save the day!


In October 1965, a young man named David J. Miller publicly burned his draft card and became the first to refuse to fight in the war. He was then sentenced to 2 and a half years in prison. However, his actions led other young men to follow him and do the same. Draft card burning or tearing it up became very common, and was recognized as a kind of protest against the American’s involvement in the Vietnam War. The anti-war movement achieved national and international levels, especially after the draft was significantly increased from 3,000 in February to 33,000 a month in October 1965. Anti-war demonstrations were held together in major cities around the nation.

Draft burning
Protest against the war in Vietnam


Media is a crucial way to communicate and supplying information to a large group of people and has always played a significant role in American wars throughout history. This was specifically true for the Vietnam War. During the war, the media’s role became another check and balance for the U.S government. At first, the media supported the government. However, by reporting the truth it ended up exposing all of their flaws. This was the first time in American history, that the U.S citizens started to question the actions of its government. An exposure of the problems in the U.S, was the Democratic Convention in Chicago and was broadcasted by the media. “The worst thing the U.S government could have done was hide the truth of the Vietnam War from the American public and the rest of the world. It was not the media that lost the war it was the untruthfulness of the U.S government and military.”

Newspaper article


The Vietnam War had numerous effects on the U.S. economy. The requirements of the war, strained the nation's production capacities, which led to an unbalance in the industrial area. Factories that could have been producing consumer goods were being used to make weapons for the military, causing questioning from the public over the government's handling of economic policy.

Government/ Foreign Policy

After the Vietnam war The United States ended the military draft and switched to an all-volunteer army. Congress passed the War Powers Resolution. This limited the president's ability to send troops into combat without congressional consent. Its passage reflected legislators' need to restrict the president’s power and to prevent U.S. involvement in a war like the Vietnam war.

Ending of the draft
War power resolution: the president can no longer have all control over the military.

The Draft

During the Vietnam War, the U.S. military drafted 2.2 million American men out of an acceptable pool of 27 million. Although only 25 percent of the military force in the combat zones were actually drafted, The drafting method caused many young American men to volunteer for the armed forces in order to have more of a choice of which section in the military they would serve. The draft lottery had social and economic consequences, it made men resist to join the military. “There were more than 300,000 deserters and draft evaders in total, in which 209,517 men illegally resisted the draft while some 100,000 deserted. Among them, around 30,000 immigrated to Canada during 1966-72.”

The young men did not want to join the military and fight for something they didn't believe in.

The Family Roles

Many post-Vietnam War families function well within their own limits. They may not flourish according to society’s standard but they are capable to function well under difficult circumstances. Then there are post-Vietnam War families that cannot function well and often end up in divorce or broken families. After-Vietnam War families are anything but normal. Trauma germane to war has been introduced into the family unit often even before a family unit has been established. the veteran may have been the actual person to serve in the military, his/her experience plays an significant role in how a family develops. Especially the children because they are raised in the aftermath of service and often in the middle of two opposing worlds colliding, for example, a father who served and a mother who did not serve.

Reintegration into Society

Many soldiers that served in the war became successful businessmen and politicians, experiences in the war shaped the after U.S. policy toward Vietnam. Although most veterans were not permanently affected by the war, “some 15 to 25 percent of Vietnam veterans (between 500,000 and 700,000) suffered from a stress-related impairment known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a psychological disease brought on by acute combat experience. Some of the 11,500 women who served in the war—90 percent of them as nurses—also returned exhibiting PTSD. This condition can occur in combat soldiers or other individuals suffering from violent trauma and can manifest itself years after the initial experience. Also known as shell shock or combat fatigue, the disorder is vaguely defined and was overused in diagnosing the psychological reactions to war of Vietnam veterans. Some of the 11,500 women who served in the war (90 percent as nurses) also returned exhibiting PTSD.”


The U.S. government saw its involvement in the war as a way to prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam, and to avoid the domino theory.

Racial Equality

When the Vietnam War escalated and was entirely backed up by the White House, President Johnson failed to consider the racial nightmare that American involvement in Vietnam could create. Vietnam collided with the protests of the Civil Rights Movement and the rise of Black Power during 1960s America. African-Americans were discriminated at home but also within the U.S. armed forces, “in 1967 no black Americans were present on the boards in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana."

Works cited

  •“Domino theory”

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