The Vietnam War is very well-known and lasted from 1954 to 1975.
TheUnited States went through five presidents and lost about 58,000 soldiersduring this war by the time it ended. Thiswar was messy, to say the least, with a string of miscommunications and tug-of-warwith-civilians deciding which side they were on. The French had controlover Vietnam, which was originally apart of the Japanese’s’ plan in the growthof imperialism. However, the French had denied the request of the Japanese toenter Vietnam. There were many Vietnamese who wanted the French rule to end sothat they could be free. There were 20 governors that came to Vietnam fromFrance; each one tried to colonize the Vietnamese and put their own mark on thecountry. But in May of 1940, Germany invaded France which forced the French togive into the requests of the Japanese as they had to focus more on the problemsat home.
The French did not want to give up their rule in Vietnam even thoughthey needed help. The Japanese wanted to use Vietnam to stop supplies fromgetting to China during the war. This wasn’t the end of the presence of theJapanese’, it only began to grow. The Japanese controlled the northern borderof Vietnam and used the country as a means of transportation as well. The planwas going so well for the Japanese that they started introducing their cultureto the Vietnamese people. While this was going on, communism was spreadingacross Asia as WWII was coming to an end, but it was just the beginning for Vietnamand the Cold War. The Japanese were moving in more and more on Vietnam as theSoviet Union was closing in around the country; Some of Vietnamese started tojoin the communist side since they needed support financially and in strengthif they were to become independent. The Viet Minh or Vietnam IndependenceLeague, a communist Vietnamese group founded by Ho Chi Minh, slowly began todrive the French out of the country hoping to gain the independence they hadwanted.
The Vietnamese people who were against communism as well as beingagainst the French presence in their country also believed that the Japanesewere just as bad, if not worse. Ho Chi Minh had written to the U.S. for helpand to be recognized as an independent country – he was denied both help andthe recognition he wanted.
It’s the height of Cold War, and with the Frenchlosing their position in Vietnam, the U.S. became fearful that Vietnam wouldfall into Communism. So, the U.S. decided to back the French to help preventany more countries from falling into communism. Despite all efforts, the Frenchfinally left Vietnam, so North Vietnam turned to its next victim: the southernpart of their country where most the occupants were against everything thenorth was pushing for.
U.S President Dwight Eisenhower saw an immediateproblem with and the North Vietnamese gaining control the French now gone.Americans had just fought in Korea; how would we be able to send more soldiers?The American people would never support the decision for another war; and theydidn’t even after we were so deeply involved in the protection of SouthVietnam. Eisenhower managed to find a work around that would not commit theAmerican people to another war and sent “advisors” rather than troops to SouthVietnam, not to fight but to help train the South Vietnamese armies. The U.S.had Ho Chi Minh despite the common knowledge he was a communist because he wasmore importantly a nationalist who wanted his country to be free of all foreignreign.
World War II ended the year before the first warbegan in Vietnam: the French-Indochina War. The Viet Minh group was gainingpower in the northern part of the country and Vietnam was considered one of theJapanese colonies as it slowly advanced. The Viet Minh group was pushing itsway through the country working its way south, to the center of Vietnam. It wasnot looking good for those Vietnamese people against communism. The Japanesefinally left Vietnam in 1945 when the atomic bomb dropped, leaving the Japanesewith no choice and Ho Chi Minh saw it as a light at the end of a tunnel, aprayer answered. Ho Chi Minh declared the long-awaited independence he thoughtthat Vietnam deserved.
He had written numerus times asking the United States torecognize Vietnam as an independent country as well as asking for support. Hehad figured that of all the countries to ask, the U.S. would understand theirpredicament due to the fact that the U.S.
had, itself, fought theirindependence. Unfortunately, there were plenty of letters that never made it tothe U.S.
President. Ngo Dinh Diem was the leader of South Vietnam who were against communismand with the support of America to avoid communism, Diem had refused to hold anelection as he feared the rest of the country would fall to communism. At this point, the U.S was injecting 250 milliondollars into the South Vietnamese economy to help.
When Kennedy was electedinto office, he was also convinced that Vietnam could fall into communist waysand he wanted to retaliate for what had happened to the Berlin Wall. Kennedyhad sent over troops to aid the south Vietnamese but there were many Vietnamesethat were going over to the Viet Minh’s side. Ho Chi Minh and Diem were both losing the fightagainst communism and the chances of being a free country seemed like it wasforever away. The U.S. had been there to support the French and the Vietnameseto train the Vietnamese troops to fight their own battles.
It wasn’t until 1959when the people started questioning the reason the non-combative soldiers werethere and why there were so many “advisors” in Vietnam. It was that year thatAmerican soldiers were shot and killed, giving the U.S. presidents an actualreason to be in Vietnam. Things were going south, but the U.
S. government andthe south Vietnamese never gave up hope. The U.S. government had tried to helpthe Vietnamese, even if was partially for their own agenda of keeping Vietnamfrom becoming another communist country.
They were as supportive as a countrycould be after just getting out of another war, and their own people beingangry about the entire situation. However, they were not the only ones. Therewere plenty of soldiers that were upset about it as well.