Friday, October 28, 2011

Vietnam War

This picture is the most famous of all picture taken from the Vietnam War. The girl running in the middle is named Kim Phuc, at the time 9 years old. The American planes dropped napalm (jellylike gasoline bomb) on the town, and it hit the girl, burning her flesh.

Vietnam's Side

Civilians During the War

Baby in a box in the streets of Vietnam
Baby in a box in the streets of Vietnam

It is probably needless to say that millions of Vietnamese civilians suffered greatly during the war. In the case of the South Vietnamese, they were not only being attacked by the Communist North, but also by the American allies: often times, the Americans did more harm to the civilians than good - although it was not intentional. There were bombs exploding everywhere everyday, soldiers on search and burn missions often came into villages in search of Vietcong, and burned down the houses and crops. Chemicals used throughout the war also destroyed the crops of the civilians, meaning no food. During the Tet Offensive, carried out by North Vietnamese, 2800 to 6000 innocent civilians were killed. And American military killed 5000 civilians in the Operation Speedy Express.

Napalm Strike
This video shows the actual video footage of the napalm strike that hit the girl in the picture above

My Lai Massacre


The My Lai Massacre is the most notorious military crime that U.S. committed during the Vietnam War. This happened on March 16, 1968, and American soldiers ruthlessly killed between 200 to 500 unarmed Vietnamese civilians. It is called the My Lai Massacre because it happened in My Lai, one of South Vietnamese hamlets located in Quang Ngai Province. A nickname for this village was “Pinkville,” because there was a large number of Communists and Vietcongs living in the area. The event was actually just another “search-and-destroy” method to wipe out all the estimated 250 Vietcongs. The soldiers were to arrive at My Lai shortly after when the women would have left for the market. However, when the soldiers arrived expecting to confront the Vietcong units, there were only women and children in the hamlet. Yet, the soldiers did not care, and shot their guns at the civilians – women, children, infants, old men and all. They also bombed and set fires on the huts for more effective murder. The world didn’t know about this event until a year later, when a man who served in the army reported the true story. The Army Criminal Investigation Division started investigating and found a total of 30 people who knew of the atrocity, but only charged only 14 of them with crimes. This event was a complete shock to the Americans, and helped them to form more anti-war feelings, reducing support for the U.S. military.

The following link is an article from Time, on November 28th 1969 - it talks about the truth of My Lai Massacre:,9171,840403,00.html


One of the most famous protests of Vietnam is the self-immolation practiced by Buddhist monks. These shocking and violent acts surely had great impact, for it encouraged those too afraid to speak up to get out and protest. After an immolation, there were usually massive protests forming. However, President Johnson said these suicides were “tragic and unnecessary.”
If you're interested in this topic, learn more at:
It talks about both Vietnamese and American self-immolations

The Aftermath

Mutated child
Mutated child

The war itself was brutal – with a death toll of two million Vietnamese – but the aftermath was possibly worse. More fighting and poverty and suffering happened after the war in Vietnam. In this sense, the war has still not ended in Vietnam – although it has long since finished for the Allies and the United States. There are still unexploded bombs waiting in the fields for innocent civilians to approach. The toxic chemicals used during the war has left many soldiers and residents with horrible diseases, and it is unfortunately continuing to the next generation, for the children of those who were exposed to chemicals are being born mutated or with other health issues. The scars from the war still remain unhealed – psychologically and moreover physically on the victims. But it wasn’t just people that suffered from the war. Chemicals like Agent Orange and napalm destroyed the precious jungles and marshlands of the country – more accurately 50% of the forests – as well as many historic buildings that would never be able to recover themselves again, and not to mention the homes of millions of civilians. The war destroyed everything – everything on the land of the Vietnamese people who just wanted liberty and peace.

Boat People


One of the consequences of the Vietnam War is that all of Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia) fell under communism – the very thing that America feared. And this change in the government system dissatisfied a lot of people who wanted freedom. Thus, those who sought liberty decided to leave their country in search for a better life – very much similar to the first founding fathers of America. Hence the term “boat people” originated from this, for they escaped by sailing boats. However, searching for a “better life” was much harder than it seemed. Only the lucky ones could reach the nearby land safely, and all others either perished into the sea, had to travel for months without food and water, or were robbed and raped by the Thai pirates in the middle of the sea.

The following link tells a true story of someone who was part of the "boat people:"

America's Side

The First Living-room War


The term obviously does not mean that people started fighting in their living-rooms. It is a term to describe the devastation and chaos that went on in the minds of those people sitting in the living-rooms, in front of the television, which broadcasted live news about the fighting in Vietnam War. Also known as the “television war,” it gives credit to the technological development of the media. From around mind-1965, major news stories of the battlefields were being aired all over America, and the people were able to see what exactly what was going on the other side of the world. And it was the first time that they ever experienced such a thing. During the time of World War II or the Korean War, both limited technology and censorship prevented the people from knowing what was really going on. Now, people would come home, sit down and have dinner, and in front of their eyes they would see not only the suffering of innocent Vietnamese, but also their own sons dying in the battlefields. This moved many people’s minds and provoked strong anti-war feelings. Because of this reason, many military generals accused the media for “helping the enemy” and being “unpatriotic.” One of the most powerful actions by the media was the Life Magazine filling up an entire magazine edition with pictures of the 242 American soldiers who were killed during a mere one week of the Vietnam War.


During the Vietnam War years, protesting sort of became part of life for many Americans. The hippie movement was big at this time, and people talked of love and peace, and about bringing “our boys” home. Of course, the “living room-war” played a big role in getting people out to protest. Americans were also influenced by the Vietnamese protesters. Like some Buddhist monks in South Vietnam immolated themselves, there have been a few Americans who followed them and immolated themselves.


The aftermath of Vietnam War was quite miserable for America, as it was for Vietnam. The fact that a “superpower” country had backed down from a war came as a shock and a shame for many Americans. America tried to figure out the reason why they were defeated. Here is a quote by a principal architects of the war, Maxwell Taylor, on what he thinks was the reason of America’s loss: "first, we didn't know ourselves. We thought that we were going into another Korean war, but this was a different country. Secondly, we didn't know our South Vietnamese allies … And we knew less about North Vietnam. Who was Ho Chi Minh? Nobody really knew. So, until we know the enemy and know our allies and know ourselves, we'd better keep out of this kind of dirty business. It's very dangerous.” But whether America learned its lesson is a different issue, for currently she seems to be repeating a similar war with Iraq. Aside from the psychological impact, the economical one hit hard: America’s debt increased by $146 billion from 1967 to 1973. The Vietnam War was a “hi-tech” war with many newly invented weapons, so it was easy for debt to accumulate like that very quickly. It took America 16 years to fight the Vietnam War, it took 21 years to pay for the debt.

Summary Of Vietnam War
Since all of you have already read the textbook, this comic is just to help refresh your memory!
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Link:   Vietnam War
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