The War in America
Vietnam is a small Asian country, 9000 miles away from the United States. Yet America felt that its national interest were threatened strong enough to fight a war over there. Their fear was caused by the spread of communism at that time. The role of communism was extremely important in this conflict. The United States had to enter the war to stop the spread of communism in Asia since the North Vietnam were communist. If North Vietnam converted Vietnam into a communist country, it could become very powerful and go on to persuade other countries to become communist. The U.S. believed that Vietnam could become powerful, and it was willing to go through anything to stop that, including sending millions of US troops to Vietnam and watching them die live on TV, and this greatly effected the American culture and society.
The Vietnam War changed the lives of many people. “By the end of 1965, 184,314 troops were in Vietnam” (Alterman 11). “Within a year, the number had grown to 385,000″(Alterman 11). Back in America, they were suffering as their sons died overseas. All this effected American society greatly. Moms were losing sons, sisters were losing brothers, and children were losing dads. The Vietnam War had a horrible outcome. “More than 47,000 Americans were killed in action, 11,000 died of other causes, and 303,000 were wounded”(Alterman 11). As more Americans continued to leave for Vietnam, the American people responded with disappointment and that caused the American society to lose faith in the government. At this time a series of protests took place across the nation. Students and professors began to organize teach-ins on the war at university all across America. This really showed how the war had effected America society, causing protests, and marches.
When President Johnson sent in the first combat troops, and ordered the bombing of North Vietnam in 1965, the antiwar movement in the US grew even larger. “Many Americans felt cheated and betrayed by Johnson because they had considered him as a peace candidate in 1964″(Thomas and Vistica 24 ). “One of The first anti-war protest was the Washington, 20,000-person march“( McMahon 303). Opposition to the war also caused students to resist the draft. They refused to be selected for the military because they thought the war was wrong. Many 19-year-old boys were dying. College students received deferments, or postponement of military services, because of their occupation. This drafting was unfair to the poor and working class, and minorities. Poor and working-class men were twice as likely to be drafted, and twice as likely to fight as the men from the middle class. As the number of men being drafted rose, more and more draft resistance groups formed in college campuses across the nation. People started to stand up for something that was wrong, and they weren’t about to lose their own lives for a war in which they thought they didn’t have any right to be there in the first place.
As US troops in Vietnam increased, the antiwar movement also grew, and the American society continued to fight and suffer as it got more involved. I think the middle class people in American society were effected the most, because it was usually them that had to mourn over the loss of their dad, brother, or son. “In the spring of 1967, huge antiwar protests occurred in major cities such as New York City and San Francisco“(Alterman 11 ). Every kind of person participated in this march, priests, business people, and mothers. Hundreds of men burned their draft cards in these protests. As the US got deeper into the war, American Society was once again greatly affected, because it was divided over the war. “Hawks were people who supported the war in America, and wanted to win a military victory. Doves were people who opposed the war, and questioned the morality of the war“(Alterman 11) . The rest of the American people were neither. They didn’t support the war, but also were worried by the protests. American Society was divided into three groups of people, who had different beliefs, different morals, and different ideas. So as more protest were organized, people changed their beliefs and views. It was a very messy period in US History. It got even messier when “at a peaceful protest at Kent State campus on May 4, 1970, 11 students were wounded, and four students were dead“(Alterman 11). None of them were protesters. The National Guardsmen were responsible for the wounded and the four dead students. Many more violent protests followed the one at Kent State.
The Vietnam War was one of the longest and most costly wars in the history of the United States. It changed the lives of many people. Every night American civilians were faced with the reality of a war they could not win on their television sets. The Vietnam War changed the course of the American history. The American policies on foreign affairs and domestic politics were greatly changed by this event. Some say it was a good war, and some say it was a bad war. It was a classic role of good guy versus bad, and communism versus freedom. The war effected everyone and everything around it. Was it worth all the lives and people that were lost? I don’t think there is a correct answer to that. But I do know that war brings suffering, fear, and violence, and the Vietnam War is a good example of that.
Alterman, Eric. “ Remember the Maddox!” Nation June. 1999: p11
McMahon, Robert J. “The Pentagon’s War.” American History June 2000, Vol.29 Issue 2: p303
Thomas, Evans; Vistica, Gregory L. “Fallout from a Fiasco.” Newsweek 08/28/92, Vol.123: p24