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History of the United States

How did the Vietnam War influence the psyche of the American mindset?


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Answered 2007-03-16 09:26:44

Vietnam was like no other war in American History. When the soldiers of WW1 & WW2 (even the Civil War) they came back as heroes and jobs were even offered to them. The People of these countries that fought in the two wars were thankful and awed at their courage and wanted to do all they could do to help these brave vets. Not so with the soldiers that had fought in Vietnam. They came home with no limbs, blind, paraplegics and also broken minds and certainly weren't helped when they had to confront the booing, hissing, called baby killers and worse. The Government of the U.S. provided little aid in the medical care for the soldiers (just as they are doing with the soldiers in Iraq ... on the news the other day) Vietnam Vets found it hard to get jobs and some were so ill they couldn't work. They learned that the U.S. Government had given permission to unload Agent Orange and Agent White on not only the Vietnamese and Vietcong, but also them! They are still fighting against many illnesses caused by this, not to mention anxiety and nightmares to this very day. Vietnam Vets formed their own groups just to be with their own kind that could understand what it truly had been like over in Vietnam and something no one that didn't fight over there could possibly understand. It is the only War that is not talked about much in the U.S. (but many of us keep it going so NO ONE forgets and at least learns from this tragedy.) When the soldiers went off to war they had Propaganda shoved down their throats so they really thought they were saving their own country from impending danger and after hearing about WW1 & WW2 they had no reason to think differently. Most of the other countries in the world (including Canada) refused to join in the war against Vietnam and didn't trust the reasons why the U.S. Gov't was getting into the war. Once in Vietnam there was more sitting around between dangerous patrols than fighting, but when they did go out to fight they soon learned (as did the U.S. Government) that they had underestimated their enemy the Vietcong. The horrors of this war soon edged the soldiers to doing drugs and drinking heavily to dull the pain. Entertainment was going into a small town to have a few beers (some of those places were bombed if soldiers were there) and nowhere was safe. They were not aware at first what was going on back home. There was also racism against the blacks between the soldiers. Some blacks felt they were put out on the most dangerous patrols. Still, they managed to deal with it, but it caused descention and a war between the black/white soldiers when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. The blacks didn't trust the whites out on patrol to cover their backs. Eventually, things calmed down and I can only guess they realized that they needed each other. All blacks weren't against their white comrades and all whites weren't against the blacks so perhaps these few made a difference in calming things down. It wouldn't be for long because they were getting words from home that there were "sit-ins" at colleges (some students were killed) and the Hippy Era had come in with "Peace & Love" or "War No More!" Although well meaning they had no idea what their soldiers were up against in Vietnam. The saddest part about it is, the peace-loving youth actually wanted the soldiers brought home, but with free-love and rah, rah, rah, they soon forgot their goal and it became more about them then the soldiers. For the first time in history the public had to face the truth! The U.S. was losing this war (and did) and that they wanted their boys back! America was divided! For some they couldn't bare to accept the fact that their husband/son/boyfriend or friend had given up their life for nothing, while the other half of Americans knew the war was wrong and the soldiers had been duped by their own government. There was to be no parades or any honor given to these courageous fighting men and it made some angry, others confused and still others to become suicidal. It wasn't until a young businessman who had not been able to join the Army because of a hearing loss fought for the right (petitioned) that the Black Wall be put up in honor of these brave me. No sooner had this been accomplished when another problem came up that black soldiers names should not be put on the Black Wall and again another petition resolved this problem. Any man of any color who fights for their country has the right to all the honor available from their country! The Black Wall now gives not only Vietnam Vets, but families who lost a loved one to that war a place to go and mourn and just touch their loved-ones name. It gives a sense of peace and hopefully a calming that no war with a loss of life is worth ignoring. Some Vietnam Vets have spoken out and feel the war in Iraq is just another Vietnam. I agree! One would think that we would all learn from each war and although war is inevitable one should be careful to get to know their enemy first and prepare the best they can. To this very day Americans are more knowledgeable about what is going on re war, and they are highly suspicious of even their own government. Once again America is split in half over the war in Iraq.

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