Vietnam War and America
The Vietnam War deeply affected the American culture, not only the hippie movement of the 1960s, but also all of society. American confidence in its leaders and military was deeply shaken. The war was broadcast to peoples’ homes every night on television. Young people found a common cause and became active in trying to end the war, founding their own counterculture in the process. America seemed to almost rip in two during the Sixties.
The war seemed to be taking its toll on America. In 1969, U.S. troops, led by Lieutenant William Calley massacred some 500 innocent men, women and children at a village called My Lai. In 1970, National Guardsmen shot four American college students during an anti-war rally at Kent State University.
Negotiations with North Vietnam led to the 1972 Paris Peace Accords, by which Nixon’s “peace with honor” was achieved. American troops left Vietnam on March 29, 1973. Over 57,000 US men and women were killed between 1957 and 1973. The war continued until Saigon fell to the communists in 1975. Vietnam was finally unified, some thirty years after its people were supposed to vote on a single government.
The wounds of the Vietnam War have taken a long time to heal. In 1979, the US imposed a trade embargo on Vietnam. In 1982, the two countries began talking about American MIA’s, and Vietnam began returning remains. That same year, “The Wall,” the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, opened.
In 1994, the US lifted its trade embargo on Vietnam. But it was not until 1995 that President Clinton normalized relations between the United States and Vietnam. The two nations exchange ambassadors, and reopened their embassies. In November 2000, President Clinton visited Hanoi, the first President to visit Vietnam since Nixon in 1969. In his youth, President Clinton opposed the Vietnam War. As President, perhaps he finally ended it.