The Impact of Vietnam War on Americans

May 5, 2011
by: XLiu

From the American
Revolution to the Civil War, America has experience through many division and
reunification among its people, who often have different opinions that led to
major conflicts. One of the major conflicts includes the Vietnam War. Around
the 1900s America became involved in the movement of Vietnam, which slowly
turned into a civil war. The war was expect to end in a short term, but it drag
on a few decades, shocking the Americans into a rush of realization.

Vietnam was controlled
by France until WWII, when it was taken over by the Japanese. The Japanese soon
surrendered to the allied force, the nation gains its independence with
communism as its government form. This new nation then again suffered from
France’s attack, the two nations finally come to an agreement in May, 1954. The
agreement was call the Geneva Accord, it divided Vietnam into two parts
bordered by the seventeenth parallel, with communist government in the north
and non-communist government in the south, the two parts of Vietnam would be
reunited by the form of government that win the national election of 1956. Both
parts of Vietnam have their own leaders, Ho Chi Minh in the north, and Dien
Bien Phu in the south. U.S. decided to support Diem’s government, because U.S.
wanted to stop the spread of communism. However, Diem’s government was
corrupted, and he refused to reform. As a result, U.S. turned its attention to another
non-communism group and supported it to overthrow Diem. Despite the supplies Americans
sent to support Vietnam, America was not directly involved in the war……… not

In 1964, U.S.
destroyers were attacked by unknown force. Many Americans assumed the attack
was the act of North Vietnam government, even though there was no evidence to
support that. President Johnson’s reaction to the attack led to the pass of
Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which allowed the president to use military force in
Vietnam. After the resolution was passed President Johnson began to bomb
Vietnam, and send more troops there. On January 30-31, 1969 the communists
launched a surprise attack that was known as Tet Offensive, immediately raised
the doubt in Americans of winning the war. Finally, on January 27, 1972, U.S., South
Vietnam, North Vietnam and a communist military force called the Viet Cong
signed a peace agreement, it required U.S. to withdraw all of its troops, and North
Vietnam agreed not to invade the South Vietnam. Despite the agreement, North
Vietnam took over South Vietnam on April 30, 1975.

While Americans might
view their involvement in the war as a good deed of saving Vietnam from communism,
the Vietnamese thought of the involvement as (a soldier noted) “they see the
war entirely as one of defense of their country against the invading Americans,
who, in turn are seen merely as successors to the French.” Vietnamese have
their own thoughts that were not heard by America, most of them wanted to be
govern under Ho Chi Minh, as President Eisenhower mentioned: "Possibly 80
percent of the population would have voted for the Communist Ho Chi Minh as
their leader rather than Chief of State Bao Dai." Vietnamese hated the
U.S. soldiers, for the soldiers were the one who burned their house, and bombed
villages that the soldiers thought the Viet Cong were hiding in. The Vietnamese
lost their homes in the hand of the American soldiers.

As victory seems
farther and farther away, Americans began to question their reason of involvement
in the Vietnam War. Many came to the result of opposing the war, and they
started Anti-War Movements. Others still support the ongoing war, they were
called the hawk, while their opponent were called the dove. Doves argued that
the war cost too much, it took money away from anti-poverty programs. They have
also noticed the unfairness in draft, middle and upper class people delayed their
service because they could afford to go to college, and those people could
afford to ask experts to make up excuses for them to escape their term. Drafting
was especially unfair to the African Americans, there was only 11percent male
population in US, yet the army’s population was 20 percent African Americans.
Due to such reason, Anti-War Movement became associated with Civil Right

This war left Vietnam
in poverty, the farmlands and forests were destroy, there was no source of
income. The war left more than 1.2 million Vietnamese dead, and some of the
soldier who killed those people suffered from mental illness for lifetime. The soldiers
were treated coldly by their own people when they return back to America. Nevertheless,
America did learn from this mistake, it ended the unfair draft and replaced the
draft with volunteer military. To prevent the president from having too much
military power, the congress passed the War Power Act in 1973. The War Power
Act stated that if the president was to send troops to a site that has not been
declare war by the U.S., then the president would have to report the troops’
movement to the congress within 48 hours after they left, and the troops cannot
stay in the site for more than 90 days, unless the congress agree.

Even to this day,
people have different opinion on the involvement in the Vietnam War. Some
people claimed it was necessary for us to try, because we were trying to help
the Vietnamese, while some claimed there was no need to get involve into other
nation’s domestic business. But they have all agree that they have lost a lot
in this war, and the damages inside their heart could never be repair.