The History of the Vietnam War Essay
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The Vietnam War started in 1945, resulting in almost 60,000 American deaths and nearly two million Vietnamese deaths, according to Mintze. Years after combat countless Vietnam veterans suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder in every aspect of their lives (Price). Posttraumatic stress disorder is an illness that can happen to anyone who has gone through a horrifying experience. It has been documented in all forms of literature and films the brutality of the war and the side effects it came with. The history of Vietnam is quite long and winding and leaves one to question its purpose (Mintze).
The Vietnam War is known as the longest battle in American history (Mintze). It is also one of the first to end in defeat for America and to be…show more content…
This act to dismantle the communist north violated the Cambodian neutrality and prompted protests nationally. There was such outrage and chaos one demonstration ended in a shooting at Kent State University killing four students. The bloodshed has left numerous Americans wondering if the war was necessary (Learn about Vietnam War).
The root of the questions regarding Vietnam War is why did so many soldiers come home from this war so drastically transformed? Coleman addresses, in the early years of the war, volunteers filled most of the ranks. As the war continued and the public became more aware of the inhumanity the government implemented a draft (Coleman 66). Statics show the poor led this war and very few wealthy were recruited (Coleman 67). Coleman claims, the average age of the soldiers who died were seventeen and twenty-one (68). She writes this certainly contributed to the psychological wounds (68).
Various reasons explain why Vietnam vets had become psychologically ill. Coleman believes it was a lack of leadership, support, and trust. Troops were trained to believe the Vietnamese were below Americans and they were just ‘gooks’ (74). One by one each veteran tells their story in the documentary “Winter Soldier,” and the same story is told in different words. In the moment of war the men were persuaded to believe what they were doing was for the good of their country (Lesser). Soldiers were left to feel as if they were sent to
The Vietnam War spanned from 1954 to 1973 and had the name, the Second Indochina War, prior to the United States involvement. The initial cause for the war was a battle between communist North Vietnam and its southern allies, the Viet Cong, against South Vietnam and its allies, the key ally being the United States. Ho Chi Minh, the leader of North Vietnam, was one goal, to unseat the French hold on South Vietnam to reunite the entire country. The resulting war would end up spanning across nearly two decades and would be costly both financially and in the number of lives lost.
United States Intervenes
The War that raged between North and South Vietnam was one with minimal participation from the United States. In 1961, a report sent to President John F. Kennedy regarding the conditions of the war urged the President to increase the U.S. military presence to help with the war. The rationale behind U.S. involvement was a simple one, if the communist North Vietnam suffered a defeat the “domino theory” would go into effect. The belief was if one communist country in Asia fell, others would follow. With that in mind, the number of U.S. troops in South Vietnam went from less than 800 to roughly 9,000 by 1962. That number would continue to climb.
The War Escalates
The War in Vietnam continued to escalate with no end in sight. In 1963, following the assassination of President Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson became President of the United States. President Johnson played a key role in sending thousands of combat troops to Vietnam following the torpedo bombing of two U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin. With congressional approval, President Johnson ordered the start of Operation Rolling Thunder, regular bombing raids on Vietnamese targets.
As the Vietnam War continued into 1965, opponents to the war started making their disagreement with the war known to anyone who would listen. Boxer Muhammad Ali refused to join the draft because of his disagreement with the war and spent three years in prison. Across college campuses, the anti-war movement began. As the war raged on protests continued and only increased in size. By 1967, the number of people against the war effort increased as the number of U.S. troops in Vietnam hit roughly 500,000. The U.S. alone had lost an estimated 15,000 lives with over 109,000 wounded by 1967. The annual cost of the war had reached an astounding $25 billion.
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The War Rages On
Despite the protests against the war, the war raged on. Along with the United States, troops from New Zealand, Australia, and Thailand joined South Korea in its battle against throughout the course of the war. The war leads to invasions in Cambodia in 1970 and Laos in 1971. President Johnson’s successor, President Richard Nixon ordered the invasions. The invasions cause further riots and anti-war protests in the U.S.
In 1973, after nearly two decades of battle, North Vietnam and the United States agreed to a cease-fire following peace talks. Troops returned to their homes back in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand. Despite the agreement for a cease-fire, it would not take long for North and South Vietnam to resume fighting. That battle would end with South Vietnam surrendering to North Vietnam.
The Vietnam War was one that spanned nearly 20 years and cost a great deal financially and in loss of life. According to records, 1.3 million military deaths occurred during the Vietnam War. That number covers all countries involved, the U.S. alone lost an estimated 58,200 lives with roughly 1,700 military personal still considered as either a POW or MIA. The civilian deaths during the war totaled 1 million.
The lingering effects of the Vietnam War continue to this day. Many soldiers that returned home from the war suffered from PTSD, had medical conditions from battle that led to one or more amputations, thousands were semi or permanently disabled. Exposure to Agent Orange also caused countless illnesses and deaths in some cases. The Vietnam War was one that many people continue to disagree with while many others will never understand the purpose of the war.