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Vietnam - Page Text Content

FC: Vietnam remembered

1: Museum Coordinators: Alba Veliu Betsy Veselaj Allison Cronly Samuel Kim | Welcome | The Vietnam Memorial Museum

2: What is our mission? | Most important to us at The Vietnam Memorial Museum is enlightening our visitors about the hardships endured by both the Vietnamese and American soldiers during the war. Conditions in Vietnam were so bad that American veterans have been notorious for acquiring Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and many problems due to this disease. What made matters worse and begot more sympathy for them was that many of them were draftees, and did not even want to be there or agreed with the war in the first place. Conditions in Vietnam also created tension on the home front. The sympathy for American soldiers in Vietnam fostered countless antiwar protests and demonstrations, which soon grew to riots. By visiting our museum, people can learn why Vietnam was so important in our nation's history and how it has affected wars since then. The war held great significance in that it was the first war that really caused resistance from the draft, which subsequently created the most protest.

3: By visiting our museum, people can learn why Vietnam was so important in our nation's history and how it has affected wars since then. The war held great significance in that it was the first war that really caused resistance from the draft, which subsequently created the most protest. This educational tour takes the visitor back in time with our artifacts and special guests in order to better understand the tensions and mood of the time, while also understanding the impact that the war had on this era. Our "Remembering Vietnam” exhibit is especially moving and educational; it is an event that is not to be missed. The diverse plethora of guests with personal stories from the Vietnam era are sure to grab visitors’ interest while still being informative. Guests, such as Jane Fonda,will help make this exhibit an authentic experience that will allow visitors of any age feel what it was like to experience life in the Vietnam era. Alba Veliu, Betsy Veselaj, Allison Cronly & Samuel Kim

4: Our museum provides a historical map crucial to the understanding of the Vietnam War. In order to really understand what happened in Vietnam, one most know the territory and where it all happened. In February 1965, Viet Cong guerrillas attacked an American air base at Pleiku, South Vietnam, prompting Johnson to send retaliatory bomb raids and, for the first time, order attacking U.S. troops to land. By the middle of March 1965, "Operation Rolling Thunder" was introduced in full-scale bombing attacks against North Vietnam. The South Vietnamese watched as their own war became more Americanized. | Historical Map Of Conflict in Vietnam | #321002

5: Corrupt and collapsible governments fell one after another in Saigon, yet American officials continued to talk of defending a faithful democratic ally. Pro-war hawks argued that if the United Sates were to leave Vietnam, other nations would doubt America's word and crumble to communism. By 1968, Johnson had put more than 500,000 troops in Southeast Asia, and the annual cost for the war was exceeding $30 billion.

6: President Johnson himself now began to seriously doubt the wisdom of continuing to raise the stakes. For several years, the North Vietnamese and the VC had been used Cambodia as a springboard for troops, weapons, and supplies but on April 29, 1970, President Nixon widened the war when he ordered American forces to join with the South Vietnamese in cleaning out the enemy in officially neutral Cambodia.

7: In the spring of 1972, the North Vietnamese burst through the demilitarized zone separating the two Vietnams. Nixon ordered massive bombing attacks on strategic centers, halting the North Vietnamese offensive. Early in 1975, the North Vietnamese made their full invasion of South Vietnam. President Ford request aid for South Vietnam, but was rejected by Congress. South Vietnam quickly fell. The United States had fought the North Vietnamese to a standstill and had then withdrawn its troops in 1973, leaving the South Vietnamese to fight their own war. The estimated cost to America was $188 billion, with 56,000 dead and 300,000 wounded. America had lost more than a war; it had lost face in the eyes of foreigners, lost its own self-esteem, lost confidence in its military power, and lost much of the economic strength that had made possible its global leadership after WWII.

8: Burnt Draft Card | #429880

9: For more than 50 years, Selective Service and the registration requirement for America's young men have served as a backup system to provide manpower to the U.S. Armed Forces. From 1948 until 1973, during both peacetime and periods of conflict, men were drafted to fill vacancies in the armed forces which could not be filled through voluntary means. A lottery drawing, the first since 1942, was held on December 1, 1969, for the Vietnam War, at Selective Service National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. During the Vietnam War, many men were drafted into the army by receiving a draft card, a card informing them that they had to go to war... Sincerely from the government.

10: How drafting worked was that 366 blue plastic capsules containing birth dates were placed in a large glass jar and drawn by hand to assign order-of-call numbers to all men within the 18-26 age range specified in Selective Service law. During the Vietnam War, the first capsule drawn contained the date September 14, so all men born on September 14 in any year between 1944 and 1950 were assigned lottery number 1. This process would continue until all the dates of the years had been chosen. Those who were closest to number 1 on the drafting list, were those who had higher chances of being drafted to war.

11: However, Beginning in 1964, students began burning their draft cards as acts of defiance.

12: Anti & Pro War Signs

13: Antiwar demonstrations increased significantly as after media reports of gruesome and numerous civilian deaths began to surface. Images and Video flared public outrage. The protest sign in our museum is one of many the public used to express their hostility towards the war. Slogans included, "Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?" By early 1968, the war had become the longest and most unpopular foreign war in the nation's history. Casualties had exceeded 100,000 and more bombs had been dropped in Vietnam than in World War II. | ANTI | #421009

14: I Don’t Give a Damn For Uncle Sam, I Ain’t Goin’ to Vietnam | Opposition to the war arose during a time of unprecedented student activism which followed the free speech movement and the civil rights movement. The reasons behind American opposition to the Vietnam War fall between the opposition to the draft and the moral and pragmatic arguments against U.S. intervention as well as to a reaction to the media portrayal of the devastation in Southeast Asia. The Draft fueled much of the protest after 1965. The 60’s began with a cultural upheaval mostly due to our participation in Vietnam. Everywhere in 1960s America, a newly negative attitude toward all kinds of authority took hold.

15: Disillusioned by the discovery that American society was not free of racism, sexism, imperialism, and oppression, for the first time in history, America's youth stood up for what they believed in, most significantly, an end to the Vietnam War.

16: PRO | In actuality, a significant number of Americans supported the war. Many Americans were distressed that Vietnam might be the first war the U.S. lost. Richard Nixon referred to them as "the Silent Majority" in one of his most remembered speeches. The term "Dove" referred to anybody that preferred peace over war. The term "Hawk" referred to anybody that spoke aggressively about war. While media focused on rallies of the Doves, many news coverages failed to recognize the adamant support for the Vietnam War, and the soldiers fighting it. | #776458

17: Pro Vietnam Rallies

19: Is This Tomorrow? | The Vietnam War began just as the Red Scare was dying out. However, for many Americans, that fear was not completely over yet. Vietnam symbolized a potential Communist threat. For many, opposing the Vietnam War, meant opposing the troops who were risking their lives to keep America safe from Communism. The Vietnam War was fought on the basis of "containment": a United States policy using military, economic, and diplomatic strategies to smother the spread of communism. The war poster shown here is an example of Pro-Vietnam War propaganda.

20: Countless songs during the 1960’s and 1970’s were influenced by and referenced the ongoing war in Vietnam. Heated protest at home was fueled in part by the voices of many antiwar celebrities and artists at the time. Events such as the famous Woodstock Festival acted as a means of protest to the war through music. The Festival was billed as “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music" and featured many artists famous at the time for their antiwar messages. Woodstock became a symbol of protest: 500,000 concert-going youth in opposition to the war attended. Musicians such as The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Jefferson Airplane and The Doors conveyed their anti-war message through their popularity Even today the Vietnam War is a popular theme in music, brought out in songs by modern artists like Carrie Underwood and Muse.

21: Woodstock Lyrics & Music | #524832

22: One song that especially exemplifies and directly alludes to the war in Vietnam is “Born in the U.S.A.”, written in 1984 by Bruce Springsteen. Lines such as “And so they put a rifle in my hands/Sent me off to Vietnam/To go and kill the yellow man” leave no doubt about Springsteen's message. Yet, at the time of its release, “Born in the U.S.A.” was interpreted by many as a patriotic song. In reality, however, the song was critical of the war and sympathetic to American draftees who were taken from their homes. Lines from the song also directly mention the “Viet Cong” and “Saigon” which help convey his antiwar attitude.

24: Jimi Hendrix's Guitar from Woodstock | #556201

25: Some of us know someone who went to Woodstock, others know someone who knows someone who went to Woodstock, but we all wish, we, ourselves, could have attended the greatest rock concert of all time. What was also the greatest rock concert of all time was also one of the biggest, perhaps the greatest, gathering of protesters of all time. With lyrics of peace and unity, the Woodstock Festival of 1969 brought America’s youth together in opposition to the gunfire engulfing Vietnam.

26: Perhaps, the most significant performance at Woodstock was Jimi Hendrix and his performance of the Star Spangled Banner. During the final set of the historic festival Jimi Hendrix let loose with his rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner on electric guitar that's been called everything from the most important political rock statement of the 1960s, to an afterthought caught in one of Hendrix's worst performances. Hendrix's screaming guitar and ballistic feedback symbolized the screeching gunfire and bombs being dropped in Vietnam at that very moment. This final performance of two days at Woodstock reminded all the attendees why they had come together to celebrate lyrics of peace and love in the first place.

28: Our museum incorporates letters, poems, and articles collected from the Vietnam War. In the letter “Dear Red” by George Olsen, he attempts to make sense of the war and give those back home an insight into what all of them were going through. Many veterans were unable to leave behind the trauma of Vietnam and psychologically return home. They struggled with a variety of extremely severe problems that they and their families, friends, and communities did not understand or know how to cope with. It is very important to understand that the Vietnam War deeply impacted peoples' lives and perhaps still do, whether they were fighting the jungles of Vietnam or viewing the media's coverage of it.

29: Letters, Poems & Articles | #222908

30: The poem, “In the Forest at Night,” by Duc Thanh, lets us see the face of the enemy in the Vietnam War. As a Vietnamese poet, he expresses his fears and hardships when fighting in Vietnam. He is fearful of losing his mother in his village and how everyday the only thing pouring down upon people are bombs. The poem paints a picture in our heads of a war-torn country where everyone can be taken advantage of in the most inhumane ways: a picture of Vietnam.

31: During the war the Vietnamese suffered severe casualties and sometimes murdered in brutal ways. The My Lai Massacre was the mass murder conducted by a unit of the U.S. Army on March 16, 1968 of nearly 500 unarmed citizens in South Vietnam, all of whom were civilians and a majority of whom were women, children and the elderly. Many of the victims were beaten, tortured, and some of the bodies were found mutilated

32: The articles in The Agitator and the Rockaway Journal express the hostility introduced in America during the Vietnam War. When the Vietnam War started only a small percentage of the American population opposed the war. Those who initially objected to the involvement in Vietnam fell into three broad categories: people with left-wing political opinions, pacifists who opposed all wars, and liberals who believed that the best way of stopping the spread of communism was by encouraging democratic governments. As you can see from The Agitator, the decision to introduce conscription for the war increased the level of protest, especially amongst young men.

33: To keep the support of the articulate and influential members of the middle class, students were not called up. However, students throughout America still protested at what they considered was an attack on people's right to decide for themselves whether they wanted to fight for their country. The Rockaway Journal includes an article on a peace protest on the escalation of the Vietnam War into Cambodia and the killing of Kent State College Students. The moral imperative argument against the war was especially popular among American college students. Additionally, media coverage of the war in Vietnam shook the faith of citizens at home.

34: Famous Photos | Perhaps the most significant aspect of the Vietnam War was the emergence of the media as a key influence towards the portrayal of the war. For the first time in America's history public opinion was drastically swayed by television, radio and other forms of propaganda. So much so that the soldiers that fought there were never treated with the respect they deserved for serving their country on their return to the US. One of the most famous events was the Kent State killings of some student protesters by the military (Look out for our collection of Kent University authentic articles), and the pictures that soon flowed into the media stream of the tragedy. | #320028

35: Medias Coverage of Kent University

36: The Picture That Ended the War

37: Perhaps the most significant and most recognized photograph from the Vietnam War is the one of the little girl running in terror as her skin was being burned by chemical gases, while American soldiers simply walk nonchalantly behind her. This picture is regarded to as the "picture that ended the war". Americans had endured enough media coverage of such gruesome images, videos and articles. They were simply ready for the war to end.

38: Kent University Authentic Articles | The Kent State University shootings were a result of the tension on the home front during the Vietnam War. The shootings took place on May 4, 1970 in Kent, Ohio when 4 unarmed students were killed and 9 were wounded by the Ohio National Guard. Antiwar demonstrations at universities and other places led to tension between the public and government during this time. Antiwar sentiment caused public outcry through riots and marches which climaxed with the Kent shootings. The Kent shootings thus became a new symbol sympathetic to the antiwar movement. Riots such as this showed the public’s true desire to end the war and certainly did not help those who supported the continuation of the war. | #443653

39: The Kent University shootings also conveyed the powerful impact that the American youth had on the nation during this time. The antiwar movement was largely led by young people, due to the fact that the war pertained most directly to them because of the draft. The Kent shootings showed that the youth had the potential to affect politics and create a public stir, as shown through the original article detailing the shootings. There were also many other similar articles at the time depicting this particular riot.

40: A Day in the Life of... an American Soldier | For the American soldier in Vietnam, drugs were a huge problem. The most widely abused was marijuana, but other drugs such as opium, heroin, and morphine were widely available as well. Opium could be bought for $1.00 and a vial of morphine could be bought for only $5.00. Despite the dangers of its usage, it was near impossible to stop the soldiers from doing drugs. The constant pressures and horrors of war prompted soldiers to take drugs in an attempt to momentarily detach themselves from the war. Studies have found that almost 3 decades after the Vietnam War, many veterans continued to experience problems with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), along with the initial 30% whom were initially diagnosed with PTSD. | #4459009

41: Studies have found that almost 3 decades after the Vietnam War, many veterans continued to experience problems with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), along with the initial 30% whom were initially diagnosed with PTSD. American soldiers in Vietnam had to face the fact often that they were beginning to disbelieve in the war they were fighting, making it nearly impossible to win. Some soldiers did more than one tour of duty because they knew nothing else and going "home" to a place where you were regarded to as a "baby killer" would be too difficult for them. When they returned home, they were bewildered and saddened. Not only did many men come back with loss of limbs or vision, but also spiritually and mentally broken. Many had an extremely difficult time adjusting to civilian life. There are still numerous Vietnam Vets who suffer from horrible nightmares and find it difficult to function in ordinary life.

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Alba Veliju
  • By: Alba V.
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  • Title: Vietnam
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  • Published: about 9 years ago