Culture of the Vietnam War By Brandon Clark

Values and Beliefs

United States- The U.S. government viewed its involvement in the war as a way to prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam. This was a domino theory of a wider containment policy, with the stated aim of stopping the spread of communism worldwide.

Vietnam- Vietnam's reasoning of being in the war was because after the rise to power of Ho Chi Minh and his communist Viet Minh party in North Vietnam conflict began in the region with the Soviet Union and the US.


America Tactics- They fought a hi-tech war, using B52 bombers, artillery, helicopters, napalm and defoliants, which were used in flame throwers and used to eliminate gorilla fighters. This killed many innocent civilians, and failed to stop the Vietcong guerrillas. American troops patrolled, then when they were attacked, they were supported by air and artillary. Search and destroy patrols went out looking for Vietcong. But the patrols were very visible, and easy to ambush.

Vietnam Tactics- They fought a guerrilla war, ambushing US patrols, setting booby traps and landmines, and planting bombs in towns. They mingled in with the peasants, wearing ordinary clothes. The Americans couldn't identify who the enemy was. China and Russia supplied them, and they used the Ho Chi Minh Trail to supply their armies. They stayed close to the the Americans so America could not use air or artillery shots, because it would kill their own men.


Homefront in America- Back home in America during this time, citizens were confused of why we were in the war. They questioned the president and thought he would come to his senses.

Living Room War- The Vietnam War was known as the living room war because it was televised. Families would gather around at night time in their living rooms and watch the war live on their televisions. This resulted in Americans viewing war differently than they once had.


In the sixties rock music came of age and dominated the popular music charts. While Elvis Presley continued to score hits in the early part of the decade, the music continued to diversify with the folk revival, the Brill Building sound, Phil Spector's wall of sound, girl groups and surf music, all that impacted the early part of the decade. The Motown, Stax and Atlantic labels brought more african-american artists back to the forefront of the pop charts. By 1964 American artists shared the top of the charts with U.K. bands led by the Beatles and The Rolling Stones. In the U.S. garage bands emerge, that were inspired by the British Invasion sound.


The first propaganda efforts was the Domino theory, the theory emphasized on 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. That being said communism would soon become a threat to the national security.

These are examples and proof of how brutal it was, for America going to war and how it impacted the community as a whole.

The movement against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War began small–among peace activists and leftist intellectuals on college campuses–but gained national prominence in 1965, after the United States began bombing North Vietnam in earnest. This spiked anti-war marches and other protests, such as the ones organized by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). They were a group organized for protests, and they protested against the fact of America going to war through marches and more.


The role of the media in the Vietnam War is a subject of continuing controversy. Some believe that the media played a large role in the U.S. defeat. They argue that the media’s tendency toward negative reporting helped to undermine support for the war in the United States while its uncensored coverage provided valuable information to the enemy in Vietnam. However, many experts who have studied the role of the media have concluded that prior to 1968 most reporting was actually supportive of the U.S. effort in Vietnam.

Above is a graph showing how much television usage spiked from the 50s to the 60s, apart of this was because of the war and everyone wanted to watch the war live int heir living rooms.

Media also was a big role of why the war was called the living room war. Simply because the war was watched on television and was televised for families to watch at home. Like said before, this is a big reason of how the citizens of America got to know what was going on, and they got a view of what happened and it changed their views and beliefs on what war really was.


The requirements of the war effort strained the nation's production capacities, leading to imbalances in the industrial sector. Factories that would have been producing consumer goods were being used to make items for the military, causing controversy over the government's handling of economic policy. In addition, the government's military spending caused several problems for the American economy. The funds were going overseas, which contributed to an imbalance in the balance of payments and a weak dollar, since no corresponding funds were returning to the country. This means that markets were crashing do to the governments taking all their money. Anti-war sentiments and dissatisfaction with government further eroded consumer confidence. Interest rates rose, restricting the amount of capital available for businesses and consumers. Despite the success of many economic policies, the Vietnam War was a important factor in bringing down the American economy from the growth and affluence of the early 1960s to the economic crises of the 1970s.

Government/Foreign Policy

The Vietnam War spurred many policy changes. The United States ended the military draft and switched to an all-volunteer army. Congress passed the War Powers Resolution over Nixon's veto in November 1973. The resolution limited the president's ability to send troops into combat without congressional consent. Its passage reflected legislators' desire to restrain presidential power and to prevent U.S. involvement in a war like that in Vietnam. Other than policy changes, the war in Vietnam changed the attitudes of a generation. First, the war increased caution about involvement in foreign affairs. After Vietnam, Americans more carefully weighed the risks of intruding in another nation's problems, because Americans were not too okay with the idea of America intervening. Second, defeat in the war diminished American confidence in U.S. superiority, both moral and military. Finally, the war increased mistrust of government and its officials. A chain of events beginning in the 1960s ruined a faith in the state that had prevailed since World War II. Government leaders were no longer credible. The abrupt end of Nixon's presidency only confirmed this sentiment. This shows how the War was a big impact on America and what it did to our government.

The Draft

During the Vietnam War, about two-third of American troops were volunteered, the rest were selected for service through the drafts. In the beginning of the war, names of all American men in draft-age were collected by the Selective Service System. When someone’s name was called, he had to report to his local draft board, which was made up of various community members, so that they could begin to evaluate his draft status. By this manner, local draft boards had a power to decide who had to go and who would stay. Consequently, draft board members were often under pressure from their family, relatives and friends to exempt potential draftees. The age that you could be drafted was from 18 to 25. This is still in act today but is not in use as much as it was during the Vietnam War.

The Draft Dodgers- Draft Dodgers were very common during this war. They were men who did not want to serve in the war so they found ways to dodge the draft. Most either hid or went to school, because when men went to school they could not be drafted, therefore, they would dodge the drafts, not only through hiding and school, but other things as well, such as protests.

Family ROles

The average american family usually consisted of a mom, a dad, and two to four children. Their home was often a three bedroom house, complete with a kitchen, dining, and a living room. The thing that set the average family of the sixties from previous decades was the ‘middle class’ style of life. More and more people had modern appliances and conveniences, like stoves, vacuums, televisions, toasters, blenders, washing machines; all the things we consider necessary today, as well as every household had running water, heat, and electricity.

In the graph above, it is shown that family wealth really began to spike in the 60s which is when the middle class came in to play.

With these middle class citizens with wealthy households, they had a television. Because of their wealthy lifestyle, Americans were able to afford to watch the war live which was a big impact on family life style. Most families during the war had a tradition to sit in the living room and watch the war together at night, again bringing back the concept of the living room war. Aside from all of this, families became angry to them losing loved ones through the draft or even just the war. They were angry that the war began and that some had lost their husbands or sons.

Re-integration into society

The Vietnam war impacted veterans in a variety of ways. Most combat soldiers witnessed violence and lost friends to the war. The American death toll was 58,226, a number that impacted many friends and families of these lost soldiers. Some American veterans bore emotional and physical injuries that they would carry for the rest of their lives. Most remained proud of their service and of the role of the United States in the conflict. During the war approximately twenty-seven million American men dealt with the draft; 11 percent of them served in some fashion in Vietnam. As a consequence of college deferments, most U.S. soldiers in Vietnam came from minority and working-class backgrounds. The average age of U.S. soldiers in Vietnam was nineteen, this age was three years lower than for American men during World War II and Korea. Aside from this, a plus that soldiers had was getting to see their families after a while at war, sadly 58 thousand dies, which means some families did not have anyone coming home to them.


The Vietnam War began by America trying to stop the spread of communism and it was used to stop the south part of Vietnam becoming communists like the north. So America sent in money and all the help they could to stop Vietnam becoming a communist country. France and Vietnam began war through the same beliefs at America had. However, America decided to help France by sending in our troops and resources, therefore we were a threat to Vietnam for helping their enemy. From Americas actions, we lost 58 thousand Americans and had more that cost us for joining the war.

RacIal Equality

Vietnam coincided with the protests of the Civil Rights Movement and the rise of Black Power during 1960s America. While African-Americans were discriminated at home but also within the U.S. armed forces, the effects of black power, the impact of the Civil Rights struggle and the resurgence of black sub-cultural style, expressed through dress, language and gesture had been transferred to the war zone. Among increasing tension, black soldiers embraced Black Power, culturally and politically. Vietnam was America’s first racially integrated conflict. Black soldiers had fought in all of America’s previous military encounters, but in segregated units. However, a small number of segregated units still existed, and a forgotten platoon of anxious black G.I.s despairingly shooting into the darkness. Overall, with the Civil Right Movement happening, the blacks thought war was pointless and blaming the whites for the war.



Created with images by manhhai - "Vietnam War Era - Photo by Bruno Barbey" • 193584 - "army men military" • marc falardeau - "FLAG" • manhhai - "Vietnam war 1972" • FotoshopTofs - "military vietnam war soldiers" • FotoshopTofs - "event against the vietnam war entrance to" • interestedbystandr - "Fender Classic Player 60s Baja Telecaster" • rivieragalleryartist - "Elvis" • Faaike - "statue liverpool beatles" • manhhai - "Fall of Saigon 1975" • Wystan - "Oct. 16, 1965, news photo: antiwar and anti-protest demonstrations, together on the University of Michigan Diag."

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