Lessons from Vietnam should be recognized


The official time and date of peace in Vietnam, according to the military, was Jan. 28, 1973. Most Americans say we should never have been there. Maybe that’s true, but the facts are we got involved.

Actually, we were involved before 1964. The French made a “last stand” in 1954. They pleaded with the United States for help. President Eisenhower said, “We will not send troops. We have just finished a war in Korea in 1953, but we will send equipment and advisers.”

John F. Kennedy became president in 1961. South Vietnam wanted the United States to get more involved. President Kennedy said we would send more advisers.

In 1963, President Lyndon Johnson was in office. A couple of U.S. warships had been fired upon by North Vietnam. The president retaliated with an airstrike and sent in a large number of U.S. troops. North Vietnam was supplied soldiers and weapons by China and weapons by the U.S.S.R.

Using U.S. nuclear weapons was discussed, but at that time, the U.S.S.R. also had nuclear weapons and the United States did not want the conflict to escalate to China and U.S.S.R. The United States would have had to bomb both the U.S.S.R. and China to destroy the weapons manufacturers that supplied North Vietnam.

In 1969, President Richard Nixon came into office. His first reaction was, “I don’t want to be the first United States president to lose a war.” As time went on, the United States realized the war was not winnable and they must withdraw.

We had never before engaged in this type of war. North Vietnam had fought a guerrilla war against the United States. The enemy, in small groups, would attack and disappear back into the jungle. It was not a war of conquered ground; it was a war of endurance. Citizens in the United States started demanding that we withdraw from Vietnam.

The United States’ reason for involvement in Vietnam was to protect democracy in the world and prevent the spread of communism. It was called “The Cold War” at that time. Two cultures had collided and not mixed. Each had their identity and agenda and wanted to maintain it.

Today, Vietnam seems content with the ways of its government and people. I think the United States learned a lesson about other parts of the world. With 47,393 lives lost, it was a high price to pay.

Paul Lawson