The Vietnam war affected the United States tremendously! Considering the war was so lengthy, they suffered many, many casualties to the point where they could not keep track of who the deceased bodies were. According to the reading, 47,415 people died due to battle and 10,785 died of other causes (26.16). The war cost the nation $173 billion (26.4.3). This war lasted through five presidencies and really had a significant impact on America.
Individual views of the Vietnam war were easily formed based on the role of the media. Americans watched the war from home while sitting in the comfort of their own living room which deeply influenced their feelings towards the war. The news would show photos of civilians suffering in Vietnam that were taken by photographers that went overseas. The media had the ability to show these images and express them in a way that showed an altered meaning than what the photographer intended (Images of History 26.2). Famous celebrities even joined in on press coverage which undoubtedly help shape the public’s opinion.
Additionally, American protesters also had formed their opinion and organized a peace movement in opposition of the war. Public opinion polls showed that from 1965-1973 most Americans disliked the war but also disliked the peace movement (26.3). It was the “silent” few that believed America did the right thing, approximately 40% of the population (26.4.1). However, some American’s claimed that it was an unjust draft for middle-class boys that could afford college which also further lead to protests. Draft cards were burned in attempt to end the war. Unfortunately, some protests turned deadly such as the Kent State University when the National Guardsman open fired on students rallying, shooting nine people total and killing four. They claimed it was an act of self defense but the four people that were killed, were simply innocent bystanders that could not have harmed guards with anything less than a pebble (26.4.2).
Throughout the five presidents that served terms during the Vietnam war, Johnson was the most aggressive and really pushed for America to do whatever it took to win the war. The largest search-and-destroy mission was implemented by Johnson which altered the public’s view of him. The My Lai massacre had American’s questioning the mission in Vietnam which further pushed for ending the war and finding peace (26.3.2). It was not until Nixon came into office that there was legitimate hope at the war ending. Although he promised it would end, it continued to go on for four more years until the 1973 peace treaty was implemented and American troops were sent home.
Keene, Jennifer D. Visions of America: A History of the United States. 3rd ed., vol. 2, Pearson, 2017.