Vietnam War

Map showing the divide between North and South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia
The aim of the Vietnam War was to reunify the country.
Image Credits: Don-kun / Wikimedia Commons

The Vietnam War was the one of the bloodiest and most long drawn conflicts that took place in the latter half of the 20th century, lasting for twenty years. It was an instance of the Cold War becoming hot: though the USSR was not a direct combatant, the North Vietnamese army was driven by Communist ideologies and received aid from both the USSR and China. Meanwhile, the US was a direct combatant in the war, providing active military support to South Vietnam. 

The War tore Vietnam in half and had a large number of casualties—the body count ran over 3 million, soldiers and civilians. 

Vietnam War Essay Examples

Short Summary of Vietnam

Vietnam was a struggle which, in all honesty, the United States should never have been involved in. North Vietnam was battling for ownership of South Vietnam, so that they would be a unified communist nation

Vietnam – And Domino Theory

The revolutionary worldwide spread of communism has always been a great fear to the USA. In the past, America has gone to many wars to psychologically protect its ideology against powerful nations.

The Reasons Why the Vietnam War Lasted So Long

It is said that the U.S. has never gotten over the Vietnam War and it is still a controversial war, these are the reasons why the Vietnam War lasted so long. In 1973, the United States and North Vietnam signed a treaty called the Paris Peace Agreement;

Why Did the United States Lose in Vietnam?

The United States intervention in Vietnam is seen by the world as America’s greatest loss and longest war. Before the start of the war in Vietnam, the thought of the United States losing this war was unheard of because America was technologically superior, no country in south East Asia could contend with them.

Reasons For The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War was fought because the Viet Cong want to reunite and reunify Vietnam. Since the American people and government were in a very vicious and intense nuclear arms race with the communist Soviet Union, the American people to make its mark on the world and make sure that any push of communism would be repealed with first political action, and if that didn’t work out, military action.

Effects & Aftermath of the Vietnam War

The Vietnam War was the first major war American’s had suffered defeat. The Vietnam war was a war of confusion, competition and biasness. The outcome of the war was far greater than an upset American nation, but a severe breakdown of the Vietnamese culture, economy, environment and government.

A Timeline of the Vietnam War: Important Dates

Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh formed the Viet Minh to fight against French and Japanese colonization of Vietnam.
  • 1941: The Viet Minh is created by Ho Chi Minh. Translated to mean “League for the Independence of Vietnam,” the group aims to fight against French and Japanese colonization of the country. The Viet Minh pushes for the establishment of an independent and communist Vietnam.
  • August 1945: World War II comes to an end, and the Japanese withdraw from Vietnam. 
  • 2 September 1945: Hanoi is taken over by Ho Chi Minh, who declares Vietnam to be an independent nation and establishes the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DVR).
  • 19 December 1945: The First Indochina War breaks out, with the DVR on one side and French troops on the other.
  • 7 April 1954: President Eisenhower pledges US support for the French side in the clashes occurring in Vietnam in order to prevent a “domino” effect in southeast Asia.
  • 7 May 1954: The Battle of Dien Bien Phu comes to an end with a decisive French loss. 
  • 12 July 1954: A ceasefire is agreed to in the Geneva Accords, which also divides the country into two along the 17th Parallel. A plan for elections in 1956 to decide upon the unification of Vietnam is also announced.
  • 26 October 1955: The Republic of Vietnam is established in South Vietnam with Ngo Dinh Diem, who is backed by the US, as president.
  • May 1959: The North Vietnamese army begins to lay down the Ho Chi Minh Trail connecting the North with the South through the neighboring countries of Cambodia and Laos. It allows them to easily launch guerilla attacks. 
  • September 1960: The leadership of the communist party in the North passes from Ho Chi Minh to Le Duan.
  • 20 December 1960: The National Liberation Front (NLF) is created in the South to counter the dictatorship of Ngo Dinh Diem. It consists of Southern Vietnamese communists (the Viet Cong) as well as non-communists.
President Dwight Eisenhower
President Eisenhower pledged US support to Charles de Gaulle’s bid to retain Vietnam as its colony.
  • 11 May 1961: The NSAM 52 (National Security Action Memorandum No.52) is issued by President John F. Kennedy pledging more supplies and troops to South Vietnam.
  • January 1962: Operation Ranch Hand is launched to spray Agent Orange over rural, heavily forested Vietnam as these provide cover for the Viet Cong.
  • 11 June 1963: Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc immolates himself to protest the South Vietnam government’s oppressive policies against the Buddhist community. It is a significant event in the ongoing protests and struggle in the country, a period known as the “Buddhist Crisis.”
  • 2 November 1963: Ngo Dinh Diem is assassinated in a US-backed military coup.
  • 7 August 1964: The US Congress passes the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in response to US destroyers being attacked by Northern torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin. It gives President Johnson increased powers in the matter of Vietnamese hostilities.
  • 8 May 1965: US troops begin to arrive in Vietnam.
  • 2 November 1965: Antiwar activist Norman Morrison immolates himself in front of the Pentagon to protest the USA’s active involvement in the Vietnam War.
  • 1967: The antiwar protests pick up numbers and intensity as they spread across the US, especially on college campuses.
  • September 1967: Nguyen Van Thieu is elected as South Vietnam’s president.
  • 31 January 1968: The North Vietnamese army and the VietCong launch the Tet offensive, attacking nearly 100 cities and villages in South Vietnam.
  • 16 March 1968: US soldiers massacre Vietnamese civilians in the village of My Lai.
  • 5 November 1968: Richard Nixon wins the US presidential elections.
  • 28 January 1969: The policy of “Vietnamization” is put into effect; US troops are gradually pulled out of the region, providing training and equipment to the South Vietnamese army.
  • 9 May 1969: The New York Times reports on Operation Menu, a series of secret bombings conducted by the US targeting communist bases in officially neutral Cambodia.
Map showing the Ho Chi Minh Trail
The Ho Chi Minh Trail facilitated North Vietnam’s guerilla attacks on the South.
  • 15 November 1969: The largest antiwar demonstration in the US takes place in Washington D.C.
  • 4 May 1970: Ohio National Guardsmen open fire at unarmed protesters at Kent State University, killing four and wounding nine. The incident makes the war even more unpopular in the US.
  • January 1971: The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution is repealed.
  • June 1971: The Pentagon Papers are published. Officially the “Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force,” the documents detailed a study commissioned by President Johnson’s Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. It revealed greater US involvement at the time than what the public had been informed.
  • 27 January 1973: President Nixon signs the Paris Peace Accords, ending hostilities between North Vietnam and the US. The accords officially end US involvement in the conflict. However, fighting between North and South Vietnam continues.
  • 29 March 1973: The last of the US troops in Vietnam leave.
  • 30 April 1975: Saigon falls to the North Vietnamese army. The country is then reunited into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

The Cost of the Vietnam War

The Vietnam War was the longest and most unpopular war in which Americans ever fought. And there is no reckoning the cost. The toll in suffering, sorrow, in rancorous national turmoil can never be tabulated. No one wants ever to see America so divided again.

Apush Dbq Vietnam War

On the contrary it can be argued that the Americans had lost the war for not being able to win the hearts and minds of their own people and thus already losing support of their country additionally their inability to cope with the rigorous environment of the Vietnamese landscape and the Vietcongs use of guerrilla tactics proved devastating to their war effort.

Why Did the Vietnam War Start?

The roots of the Vietnam War lie in the country’s struggle for independence. The French first gained control over the region in 1884. Over the years, several attempts for independence were made, but none were successful. The 1930s saw the rise of Ho Chi Minh as a significant political figure in Vietnam; he was educated abroad and had the belief that communism was the way forward for the country. World War II saw Vietnam invaded by Japan as well. Ho Chi Minh and his supporters formed the Viet Minh to fight this double colonization of the French and Japanese. 

The end of the war brought Japanese withdrawal. However, France attempted to maintain the territories it had as well as regain its control over the rest of Vietnam. Weakened, it approached the US for support in the region, threatening to form an alliance with the Soviet Union if it was not given. The ideological Cold War with the US and the USSR was already brewing by this time, and the US involved itself in the conflict in light of the “domino theory,” the belief that if one country in Southeast Asia fell to communism, the others would easily follow.

Vietnam War Poetry: Song of Napalm and Guerilla War

The Vietnam War started in 1945 resulting in almost 60,000 American deaths and nearly two million Vietnamese deaths, according to Mintze. The United States became a financial backer to Vietnam and tried to assist South Vietnam from the communist North. The Viet Cong, a communist led guerilla group, began to fight South Vietnam in 1958. 

Bruce Weigl’s Poems on the Vietnam War

To this day the Vietnam War is still considered to be one of the most devastating wars in history and has been a topic of resentment to the American culture thirty-three years after its end.

The Vietnam War Protests

Students protesting the Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was deeply unpopular in the US and was frequently protested against, especially by students.
Image Credits: uwdigitalcollections / Wikimedia Commons

US troops were sent to Vietnam, into direct action, during President Johnson’s administration, in 1965. Soon after, doubts arose about the effectiveness of US presence in the region; while the government repeatedly claimed that the bombings being conducted were successful, the reality experienced by troops on the ground led them to question these claims. 

By 1975, discontent was rife among American soldiers. Drug use had spread among them, and a large number of them were struggling with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Protests against the war were beginning to break out on military bases in the US and Vietnam, and several soldiers began to desert the army.

Meanwhile, the American public watched as the war got bloodier and more destructive. By this time, TVs were a common thing in US homes, and this was the first armed conflict broadcast in such a manner. And, like the soldiers, the journalists covering the hostilities remained skeptical of the government’s assurances that the US was winning. Antiwar sentiment took shape among a large section of US citizenry, especially college students. The fact that civilians more than combatants were bearing the brunt of the violence mobilized protestors and activists across the country. A war quickly became deeply unpopular, and demonstrations against it became frequent.

Protest Songs About The Vietnam War

Historically, protest songs are written and sung by performers to present a strong point of view regarding a political or social injustice. The Vietnam War was a one such political and social event that sparked many famous protest songs.

The Vietnam War: The Most Unpopular Wars In American History

The reason that the Vietnam War was one of the most unpopular wars in American history is that the United States fought a war for someone else by using their men and money. Besides the losses of the highly-trained soldiers and money, America was also in the unwinnable situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When was the Vietnam War?

    The Vietnam War took place during the middle of the 20th century, beginning on November 1, 1955, and ending on April 30, 1975.

  • Who won the Vietnam War?

    The Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DVR), or North Vietnam, won the Vietnam War. The North and South were then reunified to create the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

  • How long was the Vietnam War?

    Lasting from November 1, 1955, to April 30, 1975, the Vietnam War went on for twenty years (two decades).