Culture of the Vietnam War Nov 1, 1955 – Apr 30, 1975

Values and Beliefs-

A small percentage of Americans believed their government was evil or sympathized with the Vietnam but many began to feel it was time to cut losses. More and more American citizens became suspicious, skeptical and worried about the government and public institutions. People just wanted the war to be over with and for their loved ones and neighbors to return home.


America fought a hi-tech war, using B52 bombers, artillery, helicopters, napalm and defoliants (Agent Orange). This killed many innocent citizens, and failed to stop Vietnam. They forced the poor to leave Vietnam areas and they lived in loyal areas. This created disagreement, and allowed Vietnam into these areas. American troops were sent on patrols, then supported by air and artillery when attacked. This destroyed the soldiers, who realized they were being used just as bait. Search and destroy patrols went out looking for "Charlie", as they called the Vietnam, but the patrols were very visible, and easy to attack.


Due to the Vietnam War, a large number of Americans decided to remove themselves from traditional society and to not follow the law. As a result of the youth culture and counterculture decided to display their alienation from society by experimenting in drugs and simply ignored traditional standards set by society, they were known as hippies. The hippie movement was a huge impact of the Vietnam War. People in the home front were trying their best to put themselves first and not the defense of freedom for the other people living in America.


In this period, protest music was among the most powerful means of voicing opposition to the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War. Although protest music was not new, one finds rich examples of music calling for change in slave spirituals, labor songs, and most of all ending the war. Most artists would focus their music around theses problems so it could get around to everyone.


The United States was extremely conscious of the perceptions it portrayed to the world, not only militarily but politically as well. Through out the Vietnam War, the United States government, worked hard at sculpting effective propaganda in an effort to persuade the public, as well as the whole world, that the war was a 'just' war and as such deserved public support. The goal was to create an atmosphere that enabled the U.S. to proceed in Vietnam as it saw necessary.


The first protests came when the draft was increased. In February 1965, it had only been 3,000 a month but in October it was increased to 33,000 a month. Those who had the necessary ‘pull’ had the opportunity to ‘draft-dodge’ – but this was not a luxury open to many poor working class young men. Tearing up or burning your draft paper became a common occurrence and was seen to be the first of the protests against the Vietnam War.


Along with the rise of television, new record technologies such as video camera and audio recorder also arose. Journalists and reporters were now able to take much more photographs and record video material. As a consequence, the government had to face a big challenge in censoring all the new media for the first time. With inadequate government controls, the media was now able to publish uncensored pictures and videos showing the brutality of the war in Vietnam and vastly influencing American public opinion in unprecedented proportion.


The requirements of the war effort strained the nation's production capacities, leading to imbalances in the industrial sector. ... Anti-war sentiments and dissatisfaction with government further eroded consumer confidence.


More and more American citizens became suspicious, skeptical and cynical about the government and public institutions in the wake of the Vietnam War. The military, in particular, was discredited for years after the conflict.

The Draft-

A system in which there were 366 blue plastic capsules containing birth dates placed in a large glass container and drawn by hand to assign order-of-call numbers to all men within the 18-26 age range specified in Selective Service law. Ultimately people would try everything that they could to avoid serving in the war. In active protest against United States involvement in the Vietnam War, many Americans publicly burned draft registration cards, risking imprisonment. Many draft dodgers went to Canada.

Family Roles-

Kids from this time grew up as the leftovers of an unpopular war, straddling two worlds but belonging to neither. Most never knew their fathers. Many were abandoned by their mothers at the gates of orphanages. Some were discarded in garbage cans because their mothers were working to provide for family by herself.


Whether or not they felt proud of their service or sustained war injuries, returning Vietnam veterans received a lukewarm welcome for their service. Many soldiers came back with PTSD and other mental illnesses and into a society with new cultural beliefs.

Race Equality-

Vietnam War saw the highest proportion of blacks ever to serve in an American war. During the height of the U.S. involvement, 1965-69, blacks, who formed 11 percent of the American population, made up 12.6 percent of the soldiers in Vietnam. The majority of these were in the infantry, and although authorities differ on the figures, the percentage of black combat fatalities in that period was a staggering 14.9 percent, a proportion that subsequently declined.

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