Time and time again, war has ravaged our planet, leaving lasting impressions on the minds of the soldiers who fought those wars. And time and time again, history has been strewn with the tales of soldiers and families who suffered through those wars.
But, of course, there are people who want to write a new history, and want to live in a future where war is a thing of the past, a forgotten relic among the tales of heroes and truths of monarchies that we call history. These people, more often than not, are frowned upon because their ideas are outlandish, at best. But then, isn’t it obvious that these people, these freedom fighters, are right in every sense? I guess we’ll leave that question to human nature.
Human nature tells us that we have to be on top of the food chain, that we have to risk life and limb to become the one all-powerful being. So of course humans tend to scowl at one another for the way the other thinks, for they themselves think of themselves as preaching the one truth, while every other person’s words are lies that come as easily to their mouths as hunger to our stomachs. But often enough the one who is wrong will deny the truth, destroy the truth, and smear the truth with lies, so that their lie looks more legit. I call these people “Politicians”, or “Lawyers”, and the speakers of truth and rightfulness “Hippies”.
There is in this world on time when I can come to an understanding with the “Hippies”. This time is called war, and more specifically the Vietnam War. This is a war where we gained absolutely nothing in a time of poor judgment, poorer leaders, 1 good leader, and death. But before I go on, I must ask this of you: Why is it that our great country, the home of the free, tends to kill off everything good, or wise, or useful that becomes a part of this country?
America’s involvement in Vietnam began in 1950, during the French Indochina War. At the time, France was trying to re-colonize Vietnam after World War II. America, in an attempt to strengthen its ties with France, and also to stop the spread of communism, sent massive economic and military support. America had pumped nearly one billion dollars into Vietnam, helping the French take Vietnam back fro Ho Chi Minh. Ironically, the U.S. had supported Ho Chi Minh during World War II, when he was trying to resist Japanese rule. Now the U.S. viewed him as a communist aggressor, and their enemy.
Even with the large amount of U.S. aide, France could not retake Vietnam. The French were forced to surrender in May 1954 when the French outpost Dien Bien Phu, located in southern Vietnam, was raided by the Vietminh. From May through July, major world leaders met with the Vietminh and South Vietnams nationalists to create a peace agreement. The Geneva Accords divided Vietnam along the 17th parallel. Ho Chi Minh, with the communists, controlled the north from their capitol at Hanoi. The anticommunist nationalists controlled the south at Saigon. An election to unify the country was called for in 1956.
When the Vietnam War erupted from the middle of Indochina, an era of violence sprang from the midst of the dead, and fueled what we know today as the Counterculture. Hence the Hippies. This Counterculture was based on how unjust the war was, and somehow managed to transcend from war to drugs. I don’t know either. But the hippies were basing all there biased self-reassuring nonsense on the war, and it was this war that brought upon the world drugs. Sort of. And even though the hippies are doing it only because their loved ones are vanishing in the dense jungle of Vietnam, there are many more reasons for such an attack on the War effort.
Though no one could have predicted the outcome of such a war, this war would later end in a stale-mate, with both sides losing roughly 1-3 million soldiers each. Many government officials may have said, and in all probability still do say, that even though we lost many good, young men in the war, the Vietnam War was essential to the fight against communism, as it blocked the on-coming wave of communism to south Vietnam. This is a load of bull. We got absolutely nowhere. If we managed to gain some ground in North Vietnam, the Vietcong would take it right back and gain some ground on South Vietnam. Eventually north and south Vietnam settled on a truce at the 17th parallel. Exactly the same spot where we started. And they say it was a good thing.
During the whole affair, The U.S. military sent approximately 3.4 million teens to fight in Vietnam. Roughly 6 million Vietnamese fought with NV. 2 million of those Vietnamese were killed, 4 million were wounded. The average age of a soldier in Vietnam was nineteen. American casualties in Vietnam range from 56,500 – 58,500. 365,000 Americans were wounded in Vietnam, 14,000 of them seriously. 2.1 million Veterans were able to return to civilian life without trouble. Many soldiers came home with deep emotional scars; they would have nightmares, or flashbacks that forced upon them a battle they thought was still thriving. Others come back addicted to costly drugs that destroyed their lives.
Some of the wounds commonly seen on war veterans were missing limbs due to anti-personnel mines, burned skin from napalm bombs, gunshot wounds or shrapnel wounds. Some seventy-five hundred female nurses spent 24 hour days nursing these wounded men. In Vietnam, approximately 10 million Vietnam citizens, mostly civilians, lost their homes in the war. Five million acres of forest were ruined by roughly eighteen million gallons of chemical poisons, like Agent Orange, Purple, and Pink. If you can say all this was justified because we stopped the spread of communism, you’re on drugs.
Minorities during the Vietnam War made up about forty-sixty five percent of the PFC’s (Private First Class) in the U.S. Army. The Air Force and Navy Marines did not accept minorities due to racial discrimination. When Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, the black soldier population revolted against their superiors. Racial incidents became increasingly more common in the military. When the Counterculture reached Vietnam, African American soldiers started to put their hair in the afro-style hairdo and smoke a lot of pot.
On May 9th, 1970 Kent state students gathered in protest of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. The National Guard was drilling in a compound near the campus. The protestors began to throw rocks at the Guard, yelling such things as “get off our campus”. The protest broke into a full on riot, and the National Guard used tear gas to break it up. When the tear gas seemed to have no effect on the students, the Guard opened fire upon the protestors. Four students died that day, and nine others were wounded. If a war can allow students to be killed for a simple action given to them by the constitution, then why do we even have the constitution?
America’s fear of communism fueled the war effort, bringing in young men to enlist in the army so they can say they stopped communism. This fear was brought on by the Communist domino effect: If one government fell to the will of communism, then others will most certainly follow. When North Vietnam became communist, the U.S. sent nearly ten to four hundred million dollars a year to South Vietnam to fight the communists. Military advisers were sent to help the Vietnamese army destroy the Vietcong. But however much we wanted to help South Vietnam, President Eisenhower would not send troops into Vietnam. ‘“If we were to put one combat soldier into Indo China, then our entire prestige would be at stake, not only in that area but around the world.” He added, “I don’t see any reason for American ground troops to be committed to Indo China”’. (McCormick, 18)
Even with the help of the military advisers, it was obvious that the communists were winning the war. More and more advisers were sent to help SV. By the time Eisenhower left office in 1961, 675 American military advisers were assigned to help the South Vietnamese government in the war.
And why did all this happen? Well, most Americans at the time thought that the war was caused by the spreading fear of communism. But on the other hand, the Vietnamese thought it was Ngo Dinh Diem’s harsh and corrupt government. But whatever the reason, what has been done cannot be undone, and that’s a fact.
McCormick, Anita Louise. The Vietnam Antiwar Movement in American History. Enslow Publishers. January 2000